May 26, 2014

Godzilla [2014]

What a weird Godzilla movie. First of all, Godzilla does not even appear until 60 minutes into the film. The lead characters are two MUTOs, flying monster mosquitoes, basically, that get a lot more screen time than Godzilla himself.
Some critics have complained that the humans are totally sidelined and secondary to the monsters. I don't have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with the wooden acting from the "lead" Aaron Taylor-Johnson (worst action leading man since Sam Worthington; pairing him with Emmy and Tony winner Bryan Cranston as his dad seems like a cruel prank) and the illogical and foolish choices the humans make.
I am happy to ignore the impossibility of a 600' tall animal - it's bones would break under their own weight - and I expect action movies to stretch and break the bounds of the real world you and I live in, but Godzilla ignores, flouts, and breaks the laws of physics, geography, reality, and time so frequently I was actively distracted.
When Godzilla finally arrived, his action scenes battling the other monsters were good, but why was I subjected to these MUTOs for the first 45 minutes?
Sorry my review is not more interestingly critical; I saw this movie a month ago and all my fresh criticisms have evaporated. C-plus. (Arlington Capitol, in glorious 2D)

Also On Memorial Day, Through The Years

I have been to the movies on Memorial Day Monday 13 times in 24 years, but it's not a great track record. 

May 23, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Solider

I wasn't expecting much from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I gave Cap's "wholesome and workmanlike" origin story a B grade in 2011, but the runaway success of the epic-scale Avengers movie in 2012 sets audience's expectations higher for the films that follow it, while also making a bigger budget Captain America movie a safer bet.
So instead of another modestly budgeted film with a limited horizon, Steve Rogers' second leading adventure looks and feels like a huge budget summer movie, and the plot is an essential-viewing game-changer for the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The plot bones are similar to the first Mission Impossible movie (and the Ghost Protocol movie too) - SHIELD operatives Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff are branded traitors, then become hunted by their own people. Also like MI, there's a MacGuffin data thumbdrive (with an adorable SHIELD logo on it).

This movie convincingly answers the question "how do you make a boring do-gooder like Captain America interesting in 2014?" (Maybe the Man Of Steel writers could learn from this movie.) Good and evil aren't as black-and-white as they were in Nazi Germany, or when you're fighting evil aliens in midtown Manhattan either. There's tons of "gray area" in the modern world, and watching Rogers grapple with it is incredibly relevant.
Thoroughly entertaining, relevant, action-packed, and bold in its scope, Winter Soldier is very different, but at least as good as its predecessor. If you enjoy the Marvel family of superhero movies, you don't have to see all of them (I barely saw the first Thor movie and skipped the second one) but this one is more essential than you might think, and certainly better than Iron Man 3. My Grade: B-plus
Alamo Drafthouse Village, Austin TX, while on Daddy Spring Getaway