Monthly Rewind for May

Hello, everybody!

The fifth edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing May!

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Iron Man 2

MacGruber

Thoughts: Let’s start off with Marvel’s third outing, Iron Man 2. The sequel that a lot of fans ended up not liking for various reasons, and honestly, I was one of them. The sequel does have its faults, but Marvel was still finding its footing. Plus, the sequel did end up giving us a lot of cool moments like Iron Man and War Machine back-to-back fighting off the robots, Black Widow and Whiplash’s introduction at the speedway.

Next is the comedy MacGruber, the feature-length film based off Will Forte’s SNL skit of the same name. I wasn’t a huge watcher of SNL, so I didn’t know about the skit, just that the movie looked like a dumb fun action comedy. So I went with that and actually enjoyed myself watching the overly ridiculously comedy that was happening in front of me. Even the celery.

 

 

2011

Thor

Thoughts: May 2011 was pretty light on movies, but I ended up picking Thor for a few reasons. I know some see Thor as the outliner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – some even seeing it at the “worst” one – but again, Thor was part of the Phase One movies, where Marvel was still figuring everything out. It wasn’t also done in a different style as it felt more like a Shakespearian film with Kenneth Branagh directing, and an unknown actor, aka Tom Hiddleston, stealing the show. While even I don’t see Thor as one of the best movies in the MCU, it is in my eyes, one of the more ambitious films, in terms of approach.

 

 

2012

Sleepless Night

Moonrise Kingdom

The Avengers

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get started with the Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, the first live-action Anderson film I remember watching all the way through (The Royal Tenenbaums, being one that I hadn’t watched all the way through). The film followed two young lovers who flee from their homes and the community coming together to find them. It’s about what you expect from an Anderson film, with our young lead Jared Gilman says “sons of bitches” at one point, which just broke me.

Next is the French action crime thriller Sleepless Night – which was remade titled Sleepless with Jamie Foxx, which was NOT good – which I first saw at Actionfest, and instantly loved it. The film follows a cop with a connection to the criminal underworld, whose cover is blown when his partner gets caught skimming a recent product. When the drug lord finds out, they end up taking the cop’s son, and the cop goes in to try to save his son on his own in one night. It’s not your traditional action movie, although there is a great kitchen brawl, but I really enjoyed the movie for what it was.

Finally, The Avengers, Marvel’s first big team-up movie brought all the comic book nerds, and non-nerds, together to experience a massive milestone in comic book movie history. It’s not perfect, even I can admit that, but you got to admit it was something.

 

 

2013

Iron Man 3

After Earth

Fast & Furious 6

Thoughts: Oh 2013, what was going on? Okay, let’s start off with Iron Man 3, once again, an Iron Man sequel that left many fans divided. Marvel took the chance and hired Shane Black to write and direct, and decided to bring one of Iron Man’s biggest villains into the cinematic universe in The Mandarin, played Sir Ben Kingsley, in what was more a sadistic terrorist than somewhat supernatural villain, plus the mishandling of the Extremists storyline. I don’t know, it’s not the best Iron Man movie, but I think the movie does get a little too much hate.

Now let’s get to a movie that deserves the hate it gets, After Earth. “Directed” by M. Night Shyamalan (it was said that Will Smith “really” directed the movie, but Shyamalan took all the heat for how the movie turned out) and starring Smith and his son Jaden as father and son in the future who get stranded on the former Earth, after their ship crashes. Jaden’s character then as to go and search for help for his father, who was injured during the crash. This movie was NOT good, in any way. Jaden just didn’t have the “it factor,” especially to lead a movie like this, and apparently the movie went through so many changes after it was filmed, that a longer cut existed with people cut from the movie, and more of the back-story of things included. Even then, I don’t think the movie would have been anyway.

Finally, Fast & Furious 6, the last movie in the franchise directed by Justin Lin (who started with Tokyo Drift, and directed the eventually-released F9), which had the crew, teaming up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs against a deadly crew, with the returning, and now amnesic returning Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty. This was one that I knew had a bigger impact with me, cause of the theater crowd – although I do still enjoy watching it at home too – because EVERYONE was into it. It’s a tad melodramatic with the Letty and Dom stuff, but that’s one of the things the films had done at that point, so whatever.

 

 

2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Godzilla

Chef

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Thoughts: 2014’s back came to give us proper hits! Expect this first one we’re going to talk about, The Amazing Spider-Man 2! After a solid reboot with the first Amazing Spider-Man, Sony had to whiff it by trying to play catch up to the MCU and try to create their own connected universe with Spider-Man. The result was a bloated, messy sequel that got rid of its own saving grace in Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy.

Now, let’s talk about the divisive film, Godzilla. One of the main things that everyone had a problem with was the “lack” of Godzilla in the film. Yeah, okay, but Godzilla would have really lost some of its luster by the end when he’s fighting the MUTOs, at least I think so. Besides, some of the best monster movies are the ones that don’t show the monster too often until the end, where they roam free like crazy. The other one was people thinking Bryan Cranston’s character died too soon in the movie. Again, people forgetting there needs to be stakes in a movie.

Let’s move on to, arguably, another divisive film in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Based off the popular comic story, the movie saw Wolverine’s mind being sent to the past in a desperate effort to stop an event that results in a dark future for both humans and mutants. The film changes A LOT from the comics, but the core is still kind of there. But the big selling point here was taking the cast of the Bryan Singer X-Men films and combining it with the cast of the new X-Men films. The result was a descent blend of the casts and some pretty intense and surprise death scenes.

Finally, the written and directed Jon Favreau film comedy, Chef, which as you can guess, Favreau plays a head chief, who quits his job after an incident and decides to open a food truck to reconnect with his estranged family. I didn’t know what to expect from Chef, but oh man did I love this. It’s a much smaller film that got lost in the crowed summer, but it’s definitely worth the watch. Word of advice, if you do end up watching this, don’t watch it while hungry. Don’t!

 

 

2015

Maggie

Tomorrowland

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the smaller film that most people probably didn’t watch or get to watch, and that’s the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led, Maggie. The film saw Schwarzenegger as a father to Abigail Breslin’s titular character who gets infected by a virus that is slowly turning her into a zombie. The movie is just okay, being more of a character based-drama than your typical zombie movie, although it really doesn’t give you enough for the ending they went with, which lets the air out of you waiting for an ending, you think it’s building up to.

Next is the, generally disappointing, Tomorrowland. A lot of hype and expectations came with this one, and for good reason. It was directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), it had a screenplay by Damon Lindelof (which I didn’t really care about since I didn’t watch Lost) and it looked great. Then the movie came out, and it was nothing like people expected. I liked the message it was trying to tell, but the way it was executed was half-baked.

Now let’s talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second Avengers movie, which brought one of the famed villains in Avengers history, which hyped people up even more. What resulted was a very mix bag as a whole. Ultron wasn’t what people expected him to be, the introduction of Wanda, Pietro and Vision, Hawkeye’s secret family and the Hulkbuster suit. But there is also the fact that the movie kind of loses itself for a bit, and just barely recovers.

Finally, one of the best action films of the decade, Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller returned to Max, now played by Tom Hardy, as he tries to survive The Wasteland with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she tries to lead a group of women away from Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The movie pretty much has it all, top-notch action, beautiful cinematography and a killer score, what more do you want?

 

 

2016

Green Room

The Nice Guys

Captain America: Civil War

Thoughts: Another solid 2016 which will start with the indie thriller Green Room. The film followed a punk rock band that ends up in a skinhead bar, and after making a mistake, must fight their way out. It’s a very confined thriller with a descent chunk of the movie taking place in a room where the band is holding up. The selling point if you need one is Sir Patrick Stewart plays the head of the gang, so yeah.

The next film is the Shane Black written/directed film, The Nice Guys, starring a down on his luck P.I (played by Ryan Reynolds) and a rough around the edges P.I (played by Russell Crowe) who pair together to investigate a missing girl and a mysterious death of a porn star, who might share a connection. Besides the Shane Black-dark humor/wit, the combo of Crowe and Gosling, along with Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter, make the perfect trio to keep the film going, and entertaining from start to finish.

Finally, Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s ambitious retelling of the famed comic book story, obviously changed to fit the MCU characters instead of ALL the characters like in the comics. Civil War broke apart the Avengers and had them pick a side, and then added new players to the board like Black Panther and Spider-Man. I really don’t have a negative thing to say about the movie. I really enjoyed the action scenes, the airport sequence was amazing to watch on a big screen, and the final fight between Iron Man and Captain America is such a heart-breaker.

 

 

2017

Lowriders

Alien: Covenant

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the movie that slipped most people’s radar, Lowriders. The drama followed a young street artist (Gabriel Chavarria) in East L.A. who is caught between his father’s (played by Demian Bichir) obsession with car culture, his ex-felon brother (Theo Rossi) who is out of prison and his need for self-expression. I really connected to the movie, although not the car culture or ex-felon brother, but someone trying to make his own way in a family that expected one thing from me, while I went another. Plus, the movie’s very good, so there is also that.

Let’s talk about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the Guy Ritchie co-written and directed take on the King Arthur legend. I know some people who didn’t like the movie for their reasons, which is fine, and while I’m not the biggest fan of it either, I enjoyed Ritchie take on the character. Adding in some of his own flavors – a street hustler Arthur with his crew – and working with a bigger budget, and a pretty solid score, I did enjoy what I watched.

Finally, Alien: Covenant, oh man. Okay, first and foremost, there are some things I do like about Covenant, not a lot, but some. Overall though, Alien: Covenant is a tad bit messy for its good. Condensing the Alien mythology and the birth of the xenomorphs into one movie was kind of a slap to the face, especially considering that the movie’s final act feels like it was tacked on to have an early xenomorph attack.

 

 

2018

Deadpool 2

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Thoughts: Let’s being our final month with Deadpool 2, the anticipated sequel after the first Deadpool surprised audiences with its meta and fourth-wall breaking humor. The movie itself was just okay to be honest, even with the inclusion of Josh Brolin’s Cable. It was kind of a bummer, but still enjoy the first time through.

Next is the much-talked about Solo: A Star Wars Story. I think at this point we all know the behind-the-scenes troubles and going-ons, so let’s move pass that, at least just a bit. The movie itself is kind of scattered in multiple places, but the better question, and the one that should be asked is, did you enjoy it? The answer to that is, yeah, for the most part. Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han was charming enough, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 was a standout amongst the cast.

The other thing about the movie was it does suffer from the prequel effect aka no real danger to the main character, but what Solo also tries to do is set up more adventures. This would be fine, if the production wasn’t such a problem to begin with, plus if the movie ended up doing more better and got better fanfare. Especially considering the ending.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Review

Director: Michael Dougherty

Writers: Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Stratharin and Charles Dance

Synopsis: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collies with Mothra, Rodan and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit scene.*

 

The Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla in 2014 divided many fans over how it handled our beloved giant monster. While many wanted more kaiju action, the slow-build worked for me. So when it was promised that the sequel King of the Monsters would have more giant monster fighting, fans were eager to watch. Then it was announced that we’d be getting three of the most well-known kaiju’s in film history – Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah. Needless to say, fans flipped and wanted to see all four of these behemoths go at it on the big screen once more. So, does the massive sequel live up to the hype, or does it trip over its gigantic feet?

Picking up years after the first film, “titans” are on the rise and the organization Monarch is on a tight leash with the government, who wants to kills all the titans, where as Monarch thinks that humans and titans can co-exist. This introduces Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), a scientist for Monarch, who has built a device called the ORCA to communicate with the titans somehow. However, after Emma and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped by eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Charles Dance), along with the device, Monarch brings in Emma’s estranged husband Mark (Kyle Chandler), who also has experience with the machine, to track everyone down. This puts everyone on track to go face-to-face with the new taints, Rodan, Mothra and the new three-head beast, King Ghidorah, and the only hope for everyone is Godzilla.

Like I mentioned, King of the Monsters gives fans that were not pleased with the 2014 Godzilla – giants monsters beating the crap out of each other. While the sequel does take its time to show off Godzilla himself, once it does, it doesn’t keep him hidden. It shows him in all his glory as he goes toe-to-toe with Ghidorah on multiple occasions. Mothra and Rodan also have their moments, but talking more about them would get into spoiler territory. Needless to say, seeing all of these three together on the big screen with big-budget effects is truly a sight to see – especially if you see it in IMAX like I did.

It’s when we get to the human characters were things get a little iffy. We get our returning characters like Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Sally Hawkins’ Dr. Vivienne Graham (who thankfully gets a little more to do this time around), who help drive the grand scale of everything that is going on, along with new Monarch characters played by Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch and Ziyi Zhang. We also got our military characters in Aisha Hinds and O’Shea Jackson Jr. who provide some help, but they don’t really have anything real substantial to add other than some quips.

The main human story revolves around the Russell family. Although I won’t get too into it, but the reasoning behind some of their actions don’t make too much sense and kind of goes a bit too far. It’s not against the actors, but more of what was given to them. There are also probably too many characters in the movie for its own good, and even though almost all of them have their moments to shine, their moments come right after a monster battle, so the air kind of gets sucked out of the room a bit. There’s also one character that gets quickly introduced that feels more important than it should, but it’s kind of glossed over that I sat there confused for a second that it took me completely out of the movie.

All in all, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers on the monster mayhem that fans will love. While the human characters story muddles and slows things down a bit – and some are not used properly – director Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus) keeps everything tight enough for audiences to enjoy. The ending also opens up this universe a lot that should be really interesting if done right.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

3.5 out of 5

New Podcast – Phil Lord and Chris Miller Exit Young Han Solo; Ron Howard Replaces Them

A new episode of The Movie Pit Podcast is up!

I talk about the mentioned departure of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the Young Solo film, and Ron Howard replacing them. Also, all the movie news of the week.

 

 

My Best/Favorite Movies of the Year 2014

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

 

There were some good movies and films that came out this year, and then there were movies and films that I highly enjoyed that made the list too. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different and obviously it is okay.

 

The list will have the movies in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough.

 

Movies That I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Wild

The Theory of Everything

Inherent Vice & American Sniper (although it was only a limited release around here)

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Joe

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Bad Words

Under the Skin

Cold in July

Life Itself

Wish I Was Here

Magic in the Moonlight

Frank

Starred Up

The Skeleton Twins

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Tusk

Kill the Messenger

The Judge

Laggies

Horns

Rosewater

The Babadook

Stretch

Unbroken

 

(To watch a video form of the list, you can go here: )

 

Just Missed The List:

A Most Wanted Man: I love movies that keep me thinking until the end. A Most Wanted Man had elements of that but it was also of the great performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe. It was odd to hear all of them put on German accents but that’s just being nitpicky right?

 

Boyhood: Don’t get me wrong, Richard Linklater’s twelve-year film following a boy from childhood to adulthood was a great experiment to see unfold. The movie had some great things in it but at the end of year, against some of the other movies that I’ve seen; I had to barely leave it off the list.

 

Nightcrawler: While Jake Gyllenhaal gave one of the best performance’s I’ve ever seen him do and his character is so complex in a compelling and frightening way, Nightcrawler was a mixed bag and while there are gaps of great scenes and what seems like unnecessary filler.

 

The Drop: While the film was filled with strong performances all around (Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Matthis Schoenaerts, and the late James Gandolfini in his last finished role), the film compared to the others is just a tad bit under the others.

 

The Rover: David Michod’s not really apocalyptic story has Guy Pearce playing a loner gets his car stolen and is eventually left with one of the thieves’ brother (Robert Pattinson) and goes after them. That’s about it for the movie. After that there really isn’t a plot and you’ll mostly catch things on second watch, but performances by Pearce and surprisingly Pattinson makes the movie watchable the first time around.

 

Whiplash: Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons gave great performances in the drama where a young man tries to become a great jazz drummer and meets his match with a well known instructor that pushes him to his limits. Again, the performances make the film worthwhile and the last performance of the movie is what the film really builds up to, but Whiplash does have some moments and decisions that made me question it.

 

Honorable Mentions

300: Rise of an Empire

Birdman

Edge of Tomorrow

Foxcatcher

Her

John Wick

Lone Survivor

The Book of Life

The Guest

The Purge: Anarchy

This Is Where I Leave You

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Begin Again

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I hardly knew anything, if at all, about Begin Again before I saw the trailer and final film. I was completely surprised and floored by how good the film was and the original soundtrack they made for it was fantastic.

 

Big Hero 6

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Disney’s first Marvel animated property came in the form of a group that no one really knew about and they turned it into their own thing. Disney followed their formula and created a movie that tons of fun and full of heart. It also doesn’t hurt that they created a loveable character of Baymax.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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I think we all would be lying to ourselves if we thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier was going to be that great. Marvel and the Russo Brothers turned Captain America into a spy thriller with just some comic book elements and made – and dare I say this – the best Marvel film to date.

 

Chef

chef

2014 has been slightly dubbed the year of comedian actors trying to the public take them seriously. Chris Rock did it with Top Five but the best example for me would be Jon Favreau’s Chef. Favreau wrote, directed, and starred in this uplifting dramedy about a chef and father trying to find his passion again and trying to reconnect with his son. Favreau showed that he handle every aspect of filmmaking and you can tell that he has also found his passion for filmmaking doing an independent film.

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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There is something to be said that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes turned out better than Rise of the Planet of the Apes since Rise was a very well done film that probably shouldn’t have been as good as it was. Dawn continued and elevated what made Rise good and expanded on them. Andy Serkis also continues to prove that he is the master of motion capture and can probably out act a real actor, but now has some competition with Toby Kebbell who played Koba and gave Serkis a run for his money. Finally, that siege scene was a work of art and fantastic to watch.

 

Godzilla

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Godzilla didn’t get a lot love, and I’ll even admit there were parts that made it uneven but the whole movie was an adventure and seeing “The King of the Monsters” back on screen was a sight to see.

 

Gone Girl

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Talk about a total mind-twisting film. Gone Girl had me guessing throughout the whole thing and if you knew what was going on, 1) I’d say you read the book or 2) you’re covering it up. Rosamund Pike was fantastic in this and I’m glad more people got to see how good of an actress she is.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Much to everyone’s surprise, Marvel pulled this off. Dubbed “Marvel’s Biggest Risk to Date” Guardians of the Galaxy had it all: humor, action, heart, and a great soundtrack. The whole cast held their own and this showed us that Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista are going to be bonafide movie stars.

 

Interstellar

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I like Christopher Nolan and there are some people that don’t like for whatever reasons they have. Which is fine since that’s the way the world works, but I do know some people out there don’t like him for the hell of it. Anyway, Interstellar probably isn’t the best Nolan film but it’s still a good one and visually it’s Nolan’s best. Even if you didn’t like the premise you have to at least appreciate the acting from Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi and the youngest and probably best actor of the film Mackenzie Foy.

 

Locke

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If you wanted to stare at Tom Hardy for eighty-five minutes as he drives a car, then Locke was the movie for you. Seriously, the whole movie takes places in a car on one night with Hardy talking to various characters over his phone. Hardy is compelling and gives one of his best performances of his career and one of the best his year. I know it doesn’t so like much but believe me, check this out when you get the chance.

 

Snowpiercer

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Most post-apocalyptic movies (good ones anyway) are usually bleak, dark and somewhat morbid. Joon-ho Bong first American film was all of those and with a great cast behind him of Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Ah-sung Ko, and Jamie Bell, the film was great from start to finish.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson is one of those directors not everyone gets, and I’ll admit I was one of them early on. However, I have quickly become a fan of his and his films, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those films. I don’t think I laughed as hard as I did in theaters this year when watching this. It’s a great quirky film with laughs, mystery and romance.

 

The Imitation Game

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Based on the real life and accomplishment of English mathematician Alan Turing who cracked the Enigma code during WWII, The Imitation Game is a great drama with great performances by Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Rory Kinnear. But all of them are lead by Benedict Cumberbatch, who gives one of the best performances of the year and completely embodies the character so well that you really want to see him succeed and feel for him at the end.

 

The LEGO Movie

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Another movie that probably shouldn’t have worked, The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller managed to pull off a great movie based a huge product that literally has no story to it. The LEGO Movie has so many layers to it that every time I watch it I find something new to love. Everything is Awesome!

 

The Raid 2

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I didn’t think it would be possible for Gareth Evans to top what he did in the first The Raid, but wow, was I wrong. The Raid 2 might be one of the best action films of the year, if not the best. I know a lot of people were irked by how slow things moved, but looking at how all the things turned out, all that build up made the ending so satisfying

 

So what is on your list? What do you think of my list?

 

Happy New Year!

and here’s to another great year of movies

My Best/Favorite Movies of Summer 2014

Can you believe it? Another Summer Movie Season (May to August) has come and gone, and it gave us a wide array of movies for us movie fans to choose from. It could be arguably said that this summer was not the best year of movies, it doesn’t mean that there were not good movies to see.

 

Of course that’s why I’m here. Like every summer, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite/best summer movies I’ve seen. I’ll be doing them in alphabetical order, since I think it’s more fair/better that way for me.

 

Let’s start off with some Honorable Mentions.

 

Honorable Mentions

A Most Wanted Man

Deliver Us From Evil

Edge of Tomorrow

Neighbors

The Expendables 3

The November Man

The Purge: Anarchy

The Rover

 

 

BEST/FAVORITE

Begin Again: It didn’t get a wide release like many of the summer movies on the list, but it was a great charming film that had a lot of heart, soundtrack, cast and performances.

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Boyhood: Whether you liked the movie or not, the concept around Boyhood is great. Richard Linklater was able to film a character’s (and actors) life through film and give us maybe one of the best coming of age stories.

 

boyhood

 

Chef: Another limited release and just like Begin Again it had a great cast, performances, heart, and soundtrack.

chef

 

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Dawn had a lot riding against it. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a great film but Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a great sequel and arguably a better film.

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Godzilla: A lot of people complained that despite the title Godzilla doesn’t actually show up a lot in the film. Nonetheless, I thought the film was great. Gareth Edwards did a terrific job of building this world that I can’t wait to jump back into.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Arguably one of the best Marvel movies to date (right there with Captain America: The Winter Soldier). With a great soundtrack, beautiful visuals and a top notch cast, Guardians is one of the best films of the summer.

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Snowpeircer: Let again another limited release but this one had been on my radar for a while as opposed to Begin Again or Chef. Directed by one of my favorite Korean directors Joon-ho Bong (who also did The Host) makes his American film debut, the movie had a real sense of dread and strokes of hope that kept me interested until the end.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past: Whether you liked it or not, Bryan Singer bought one of the most ambitious comic book storylines to the big screen, and combined his own cast and the new cast of the X-Men films.

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So, what are your favorite or best movies of the summer? Let me know in the comments.

‘Godzilla’ Review

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Dir: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, David Stratharin and Juliette Binoche

Synopsis: The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

The King of the Monsters is back! This time taking on a more gritty and realistic approach to the big monster. Of course the Godzilla monster has a huge fan base, and well deserved, but he hasn’t really had a well deserved outing in a long time. But it hasn’t really been directors, writers or producers fault all the time. Godzilla is a pretty difficult character to nail. He’s been a hero and a villain.  He’s been a loaded symbol and an just something to take a massive amount of space. Finally, he’s a cultural icon and a punchline. But, director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) has created almost a labor of love that attempts to draw from the monster’s rich history to appeal to fans, but alienate people who are not familiar with the history and only know the name. It’s a rather ambitious and daring thing to do but Edwards somehow manages to pull it off.

 

The movie starts off in the Philippines in 1999. Scientists Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Hawkins) go to a collapsed mine and discover a cavern that houses not only a ribcage, but also two mysterious spores, as they call them.  But they soon realize that something has crawled out and has made its way to the sea. We then go to Tokyo, where a seismic event causes the collapse of a power plant, and engineer Joe Brody (Cranston) loses his wife Sandra (Binoche) in the tragedy (NOT A SPOILER since it’s in trailers).

 

Fifteen years later, their son Ford (Taylor-Johnson) is working in EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) in the navy, but is forced to travel to Japan and bail his estranged father out of prison.  Joe has been trying to figure out why the plant collapsed, and believes the answers are in Japan’s quarantine zone.  Ford reluctantly follows his father into the restricted area only to discover that his father’s crazy theories might not be so crazy after all.
I know one of the many things people are mad about this iteration of Godzilla is the fact that we don’t get enough Godzilla screen time. Instead the movie focus on the other monsters called “MUTOs” (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). But I have to give credit to Edwards for his patience on revealing the big man himself. We get teases of Godzilla throughout the movie, first by seeing the spikes on his back in the beginning sequence of the movie. But after that, we get mostly see the destruction that he leaves behind with a tease of a tail or foot.

 

However, it’s not just the Godzilla monster, the whole movie is a slow burner. The structure and pacing is quite similar to the 1954 original. I think some people won’t appreciate the pacing because modern audiences what rapid pace storytelling. But, it is the pace that makes the final act mean a hell of a lot more and a spectacle to see. Moreover, it is that pace that makes the reveal of Godzilla just the more awesome. Once we get the full reveal with the roar, it is terrifying and an amazing sight to see.

 

But, as fun as it is to see Godzilla and the MUTOs smashing and destroying things as they fight to the death, it shouldn’t be what carries to the story despite how people feel about that. One of the things that every critic blasts in big monster movies nowadays is the human story. Now I’ll admit I liked seeing Godzilla go toe-to-toe against the MUTOs but we need to know what the people in the middle of these two behemoths are thinking and going through.

 

As mentioned before, the story mostly follows Ford as he becomes tangled with stopping the MUTOs and Godzilla with the military. Throughout all that, he also tries to get back to his wife Elle (Olsen) and his young son Sam (Carson Bolde). On the other side we have the government lead by Admiral Stenz (Strathairn) with the help of the scientists played by Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins. Wantabe’s Dr. Serizawa (the same name as the scientist is the original) is fascinated by the monsters, even seeing Godzilla as monster that is simply keeping the balance of nature. His sentiments fall on deaf ears as the government only sees the monsters as a threat and try to the keep the people that, unfortunately, are standing in the middle. Also, just a bonus, Wantabe does have the best line in the movie.

 

But possibly the strongest arc of the human story, is at the beginning with Cranston’s Joe Brody and wife Sandra, played by Juliette Binoche. It’s a bit rare to get such a strong and emotional beginning in these kinds of movies, but Cranston and Binoche performances make that beginning gut-wrenching even for a Godzilla movie. Cranston, to probably no surprise, gives the best performance as a man who has lost everything he cares about and just wants answers.

 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s hero character is not obviously going to eclipse Godzilla but he does a descent job of playing the human hero. Although as a man who is forced into the situation, I did hope that he would have been a little more to his character. Elizabeth Olsen, who is impressively talented, has very little to do in this.

 

But let us not forget the big man. Godzilla is truly a force of nature. His presence is felt every time he’s on screen and you can clearly see why everyone is in shock and awe. He’s also gone through so many different looks that seeing this version of him, it feels right. People have been complaining that his Godzilla is a bit “fat” which seems almost stupid to say considering he’s a force of nature. But his “fatness” doesn’t factor into his movements or even his attacks against the MUTOs. Briefly, the MUTOs have an interesting design themselves and play mostly the villains of the piece.

 

The movie does take itself seriously but there are welcomed amounts of humor that honestly surprised me. Not to the point where it takes away from the seriousness but moments that really fit into the story and feeling. But the other thing that movie does, that I’ve briefly touched on, is the movie pays a tremendous amount of the respect to the rich history of Godzilla. A Godzilla fan will catch most of the homage’s and references the movie makes. But, unlike most remakes, the movie makes the history an actual part of the overall story.
 

All in all, Godzilla shows that with the right approach The King of the Monsters can be the great monster that he once was and that we remember to be. The movie is a slow burner but once the action picks up you won’t be able to look away, especially when Godzilla shows up. The movie will divide fans but I hope that people will appreciate how much respect the filmmakers have put into this version of Godzilla.

 

 

Godzilla

5 out of 5