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Godzilla (2014)

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Whether you’re a casual filmgoer or a diehard cinephile, it’s deceitfully easy to get caught up in hype, no matter how adamant one may oppose influence. The truth is, usually it isn’t even external pressures that wind up persuading us to a predetermined conclusion. We form our own biases, niches, and preferences, completely devoid of any convincing, leverage, or sway originating from peers, media, society, etc… Either way, a genuine, uninhibited opinion, free from preconceived notions is nearly impossible to form nowadays. And as much as I’d like to be one of the remaining few who can birth such a rarity, I cannot. I found myself lost amidst the chaos and destruction of “Godzilla’s” mammoth awareness campaign a few months beforehand, even as far back as the comic-con teaser released roughly a year ago. Needless to say, the sheer size of this beast and the terror insinuated through the film’s publicity endeavours snagged me irrevocably.

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Originally what drew me to Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” reboot was the foreboding magnitude and apocalyptic nature of the film’s teasers and trailers. To be honest, the disgraceful, cliche-infested outing from 1998 still left a distinctly potent, gag-inducing taste in my mouth, and I was eagerly looking to wash it out. That being said, apart from Edwards himself, this revamping didn’t exactly have me from the get go. As I mentioned, the debacle starring the wonderful Jean Reno still lingered and the cast chosen for this reimagining left a lot to be desired. Not that I dislike any specific member of the ensemble, I just thought that those chosen weren’t able to handle the spotlight individually, so I remained slightly skeptical still. However, the helplessness and disturbing reality of the film’s tone towards humanities extinction overwhelmed me. Combine that with the monstrous, sky-scraper size of the creature itself and its defining, eardrum shattering roar…and I was won over.

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Heading into the theatre on opening weekend (surprise), there was only one thing on my mind. Did “Godzilla” keep its tone and atmosphere? I was very much on board with Edwards’ vision that would introduce the original movie monster into the modern day and I ached with anticipation, hoping he could pull it off. Unfortunately, upon conclusion, I don’t know what’s more tragic, the fact that Edwards didn’t fully realize the film I was hoping for, or that he almost did. Edwards is a talented filmmaker no doubt. “Monsters” is something to be immensely proud of, in my opinion. With “Godzilla” however, it does feel as if the plausibility and human aspect of the film clashed with the typical monster goodness we’ve come to expect from the “Godzilla” franchise. While both segments are individually entertaining, together, they didn’t meld as seamlessly as I’d hoped.

No one is readily to blame, and by no means is the film’s lacklustre delivery Edwards’ fault. I’ve simply deduced that plausibility and “Godzilla” (and everything that comes with it) do not go hand-in-hand. I feel that what I envisioned before seeing the film is precisely what Edwards’ wanted to end up on screen. Sadly, I struggle to imagine a scenario in which “Godzilla” and humanity co-exist, both thematically and physically on screen.

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As I stated earlier, the film can be separated into two segments. For roughly the first forty minutes, there’s little-to-no action, something I didn’t anticipate heading in. Drama takes centre stage and while consistently captivating, the characters aren’t nearly compelling enough. Because the characters are so bland and their stories, predictable, the cast feels like a slapped-together ensemble of supporting players. This should never be the case when you’ve got the likes of Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn, and Aaron-Taylor Johnson at your disposal. All critique and judgement aside though, the cast does do their best with what they’re given, it’s just that not one of their performances will be remembered years down the road. Thankfully however, those who comprise the cast are talented enough and have already proven their worth, so we shouldn’t worry about their future being affected by this film.

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Now, for a significant chunk of this review, I’ve been rather neutral to negative. The truth is, in the same breathe that I harshly judge Edwards’ reboot, I applaud it for making an action film watchable again, for me anyway. I’m not the biggest fan of the genre and I don’t give top marks for sublime CGI. Most films try to pass on their looks alone, and while “Godzilla” is stunning to look at, it doesn’t solely rely on this fact. Even though it becomes, rather ironically, the only admirable trait of the film. Although its ambition and scale are rather stupendous in their own right, but not to the same effect. The best way to watch this giant-monster flick is to throw every preconceived notion aside and take it for what it is. It’s an action film with gigantic monsters and Edwards does the illustrious lizard and his companions justice. After all, we’re all here for the big guy and nothing else, although some memorable character turns would have been a nice addition.

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“Godzilla” delivers what we’re ultimately paying to see, but is rather lacklustre otherwise. One can’t help but feel that the premise and cast went to waste. That being said, we get enough of a look at the big guy and the carnage that ensues to make Edwards’ “Godzilla” worth the watch and immensely more successful than the 1998 debacle.

Godzilla: 7 out of 10.

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Inception (2010)

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Outlandishly complex, visually mesmerizing, and action-packed. “Inception” is an intelligent blockbuster that bursts forth from the screen with all the spectacle and wonder that makes cinema so riveting. With infinite staying-power fortified by unlimited ingenuity, an empathetic human element, and dynamism. “Inception” is easily one of the best science fiction films to ever be released, if not the best. Written and directed by the distinguished Christopher Nolan. “Inception” is a brilliant addition to his already stellar collection of highly memorable films and adds another layer of superlativeness to his stern and bright reputation. Completed by an all-star cast and an absolutely epic score from the incredibly talented Hans Zimmer. “Inception” is an unparalleled cinematic experience and regardless of its intricate story or the grandness of its heart-stopping scale, should stand the test of time (no pun intended).

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Dominic Cobb (DiCaprio) is a skilled thief who is somewhat of a master when it comes to the artistic science of extraction. Simply put, Dom can be inserted into anyones dreams and steal their most valuable secrets and information. After a failed job, Dom and his partner Arthur (Levitt) are hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe), the original target, to convince a rival company’s owner to disband his inheritance. This tactic is officially known as inception. Upon recruiting Eames (Hardy), Ariadne (Page), and a few others, the group begins plotting against their target, Robert Fischer (Murphy), unaware that Dominic is hiding a dark and possibly dangerous secret about his late wife Mal (Cotillard).

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Once again Nolan is able to top his previous efforts with a completely unique and bewildering idea presented with his usual flare and style. Evidently, more than a few like to poke fun at “Inception” claiming its premise as idiotic, amongst other aspects they feel to be miscalculated. Nonetheless, Nolan’s ability to transcend and harness the abstract remains unrivalled and is a much needed jump-start for the currently unbalanced film industry. While the path he has carved for cinema might not be for everyone. Cinephiles and critics universally agree that Nolan is a mind like no other. Arguably the most successful, forward-thinking, genius working in film as of the moment. Nolan always pushes the envelope and upon assisting in the much needed reboot of the Superman franchise, it appears the sky’s the limit for this one of a kind filmmaker, but I digress, back to “Inception.”

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Very rarely does a film come along that proves to be a game-changer, and in every sense, “Inception” is one of these films. Whether it is the folding over of an entire city, mind-churning paradoxes, or astoundingly choreographed action sequences, “Inception” is deliciously appealing. Granted, a majority of these magical, majestic, delectable scenes take place in a fantastical realm. However it doesn’t degrade the sheer intellect, talent, and innovation infused into every single one of these miraculous scenes. And while the production value and intricacy of these aspects is enough for them to stand on their own. What truly puts “Inception” at another level is the brains that accompany the brawn. Equally matched intellectually and visually, “Inception” is its own excellent contrast. The mind and eyes receive quite the workout, yet, never has a strenuous effort felt so euphoric.

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Talk about easy on the eyes. “Inception” has the outwardly striking, abundantly accomplished, and utterly skilled cast to assist in the completing of this masterpiece. Starring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cottilard, and Michael Cane, amongst other proficient personnel . “Inception” is undoubtedly the full package with an ensemble that knows no weakness.

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Many will deny it having seen a few of these stars in previous films, but “Inception” officially launched Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy into the mainstream. Each give a humorous and heartfelt performance that instantly made them crowd favourites. Cottilard and Page do an outstanding job grounding this flick, adding a much needed emotional element to this larger-than-life picture. What can one say about Leonardo DiCaprio, he always makes it look so effortless, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Finally, to quote the great Mr. Nolan, “it’s always good to have a little Michael Caine in your film.”

Literally appealing to every sense, “Inception” is not to be missed by anyone in existence, cinephile or not…and how about that ending?

Inception: 9 out of 10.

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