MeekinOnMovies On….Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla
Directed By: Gareth Edwards, 
Starring: Godzilla, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and Aaron Tyler Johnson

Between the Roland Emmerich comedy…thing, and the Japanese movies
that haven’t aged well, for a time Godzilla was most valuable as an idea.
We saw movies that aped Godzilla’s genre for low-fi horror movies like
Cloverfield, or big budget, tonally bizarre flicks like Pacific Rim.
Even watching “Godzilla 2000” requires accepting it as a cheesefest and
not so much as an actual movie made with dramatic intent.

However, 
thanks in part to director Gareth Edwards and some deft directional
choices, it’s clear the King of Monsters is back, and anyone who wants
to take his crown better bring their “A” game.  

Since
Godzilla movies are a lot like pro wrestling in that they’re ‘fake’,
we’re
pretty sure we know who’s going to win, and in the meantime we’re hoping
to get a healthy dose of chaos and destruction,  we should take a look
at the under card. After a prologue sequence reminding us of all the
terrible things folks have done with nuclear weapons, and a short scene
with Ken Watanabe that may purposefully be similar to one in the last
Godzilla remake, the movie opens with Bryan Cranston at the center of a
nuclear meltdown in Japan that ultimately claims his wife.

Flash
forward a dozen or so years and we watch catch up with Cranston’s son,
Ford, returning home from the military, only to be forced to go to Japan
to bail his dad out of jail, who then reveals a massive conspiracy,
then they go to uncover the truth, and blah blah blah blah eventually
the secret is let out of the bag, and there are monsters in our world,
and they’ve woken up from hibernation.

Obviously
the plot isn’t important in the sense that we really care about the
characters or what they have to say, or how their world-view should be
respected, but the movie gives it an earnest shot and the results are
pretty good. Cranston has a wonderful bitchfest about his wife to a
one-way mirror, and Ken Watanabe looks every bit at stoic and troubled
as you would hope him to be – just a hair south of the point where he
would feel like a South Park parody.

More
important that realistic plot details is how these disaster movies
approach their world-wide atmosphere. The Dawn of The Dead remake
handled the world changing implications of its story by combining fake
news footage, a haunting Johnny Cash song, and footage of real riots and
violence to convey the world as we know it is over. Similarly,
something like Godzilla appearing would be a massive news story
world-wide, and it’s treated pretty well here, with constant news
updates in the background on TVs, including a very “Cable News” info
graphic of the monsters that landed a chuckle.  If these scenes didn’t
work, none of the stuff occurring in the movie would be all that
enjoyable or dramatic, because it’d feel like a fantasy movie with no
longer-lasting consequence.

There
are quite a few action sequences involving the monsters, including a
chilling sequence in Hawaii and a fun gag in Las Vegas. The highlight of
the movie involving non-monster-on-monster combat involves a sequence
on a bridge that is truly pulse pounding.  

Eventually
Godzilla, the two other monsters, the Army and their plan involving
nuclear weapons, Ford, and the wife he’s been trying to find the whole
movie collide in a Californian Battle Royal for the ages as Godzilla
engages in an inter-gender handicap match against his two foes. 

I’d
rate it about ***1/2 stars. It was fun and got the job done, but
considering the under card had so much world building and explaining to
do, it would have been impossible for the brawl between the three beasts
to deliver, and considering this is Godzilla’s first PPV in quite a
while, we all knew he had to go over and go over strong. 

What’s
nice is that even the heels get some sympathy and you understand their
point-of-view as well, which makes the whole brawl feel like an
inevitable confrontation than a staged fight, and the resolution a
solemn victory instead of a celebrated one. The way they turn Godzilla
face is clever, too.

Ultimately
if you like Godzilla movies or anything featuring giant stuff
destroying smaller stuff, this is a great movie to catch with a group of
friends for a matinee where you can chortle at the screen a bit and
giggle at the occasional portion that makes you roll your eyes. But
the joy in Godzilla is that those eye rolls come from a place of respect
as opposed to disgust or reaction to cheesy effects. It’ll be because
there’s a scene that made you scoff, or a monologue given to a naval
captain that felt a just a touuuchhhh too heavy for a summer action
movie, but you appreciate the effort and can’t wait to see more anyway.

 
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“Ozymandias” Cements Breaking Bad’s Legacy

I’ve
never written a TV review before, but just had to after last night. Although
 I have tried to write about Breaking Bad several of times, but the
problem is words just doesn’t do the show any justice. It is
so prodigious that it is  honestly surreal. I’ll try and do my
best. And if people like them, I’ll review the last two shows.


Well,
anyway, a lot of people call the Wire the greatest show ever, but there is no
bleeping way that it is better than this. Breaking Bad has become the most
compellingly vigorous serial show that has ever been constructed.
And
nobody anticipated it to be…..
Vincent
Gilligan, to most, was a rather unknown writer, with his popularity mostly
coming from writing episodes for the X-Files, and Bryan Cranston
was famous for being a ridiculously goofy comedian. Now, he is playing one
of the deepest characters ever, and with skillfulness and some luck, Gilligan
has written a chef-d’oeuvre that is going to be known to many as the greatest
TV show of all time. There are just so many remarkable things about Gilligan’s
writing in Breaking Bad.
For
starters, his aptitude to develop relatable, yet enormously multifaceted
characters, is off the charts. Look no further than at Walter White for an
example. Much like the typical Bryan Cranston played character we are used to,
White is introduced as a misfortunate spineless nerd, who is underachieving as
a high-school chemistry teacher. His less-than-stellar life takes an
immense turn once he is informed that he has cancer and also when he meets up
with an old high-school student: Jesse Pinkman.
Over
time, he ends up undertaking every conceivable illegal activity—not because of
him being a deranged psychopath; instead, to protect himself from
being caught or murdered. Regardless of being an ingeniously shrewd,
calculating murder, Gilligan does an impeccable job of keeping Cranston’s
character both sympathetic and amiable. Whether it is because of his cancer,
handicapped son, unfair wife, or him continuously trying to protect Pinkman’s
well-being, or something else, there are certain merits White has that
figuratively enforces someone to cheer for him. His walks a really narrow line
that is vulnerable for blemishes, and yet miraculously has virtually
none.
There
is no doubt about it, developing characters is a very significant layer of
writing. However, it pales in comparison to storytelling. Breaking Bad has an
exquisite storytelling, and it is obviously because of Gilligan. He
has mastered every façade of both writing and telling a story. As a result of
his virtually flawless writing, he has made his followers exultant, infuriated,
perplexed, and traumatized. Another remarkable thing about the show is it
has a payoff in every episode, yet that doesn’t derail or
slow anything down. The show is also is layered with unanticipated twists and
turns that still remain true to the characters. And suspense is splendid, the
action scenes are penetrating, and the dialog is piercing as a stiletto.
Gilligan
has taken his followers on a compelling journey of Walter White’s life, using
tons of twists and turns and yet not derailing its lucidity at all. Whether it
is by creating an intriguing conflict or stacking colossal odds against the
main characters, it always has its viewers addicted.
Due
to its virtues, season four could have been an admirable culmination to the
show, particularly because of the chess match among Walter White and
Gustavo Fring, translating into the most intense conflicts of all time and
therefore making Season 5 essentially a bonus.
And
what a bonus it  has turned out to be!
It
seems like Breaking Bad is not in it just for the money. It has too much
dignity, and it cares too much about ending on a high note rather than
milking the cow until it becomes entirely dry. Even if it is going to be a sad
day when it climaxes, it is the right decision. After all, all good things have
to end, and there is no better way than going out at the best time. But
seriously though, I still just do not get how each episode just keeps
outshining the other. I mean every one in this season has been virtually
perfect, but somehow the next one is even better than the former. It
is effectively and exquisitely escalating and intensifying all the
way to the crescendo.
After
last week’s controversial ending – instead of stretching and
delaying the gun scene out as far as possible –  they gave us the
pay-off right away. The scene established that Walter White has some
good morals left since he negotiated with Jack to keep Hank
alive. He offered him every penny that he had saved in order to keep the same
guy alive that wanted him arrested and to decay in jail.  Even though Hank
was ruthlessly emotionless towards Walter, he wanted to keep him alive because
he was family.
It
did not work, though. Hank is now dead, ending the cat-and-mouse
game among him and Walter. This twists the narrative in a downright
unpredictably stimulating direction, as everyone thought the finale would be
an ultimate showdown between the two. 
Quickly,
White becomes evil again by showing a vulnerable Jesse Pinkman no remorse when he discovers him hiding under the car and then points him out to the
neo-Nazis. He does not change his mind, either, as he gives Jack a subtle
nod to do the job. But instead of killing Jesse, the neo-Nazis say that they
are going to “get information out of him” ( in reality, they are using him to cook
them meth) and then kill him afterwards. Just as Pinkman is being dragged
away, Walter tells him he watched Jane die when he could have saved her, which
was a playback to an earlier episode.
What
a cruel bastard!
Rian
Johnson was a perfect selection as the director, as he created a subtle,
detailed, artsy and sophisticated masterpiece.The minor details are
insanely well-done, as they are barely recognizable, but they do such
a phenomenal job in intensifying the scene.
For
example….
When
Hank gets shot, it echoes off the mountains and an insufferable noise
plays, portraying that Walter is shell-shocked and stunned.
When
Jesse is soon to be expired, he looks up and sees the birds flying around,
which was a moment of clarity of the situation and him seeing his life flash
by him.
The
greatest directed scene, however, goes to the scene where the White
family separates, wherein Walter packs his clothes and other stuff up in
order to escape from the major problems surrounding him, but his wife keeps
asking the same questions over and over again, even though Walter keeps insisting
that he will explain it all later. She then grabs a knife and actually slashes
White’s hand. He is in shock by her actions, and to display that, a
puzzling-type sound plays in the background, exemplifying total astonishment.
Then,
they wrestle over the knife while their baby loudly cries, adding more power and intensity to
the scene. Flynn eventually saves his mother by knocking his dad off her.
Everything becomes too peculiar for Walter — as he mutters out, “What are you
doing!? We’re supposed to be a family!? The camera then zooms out, displaying
that Walter is dizzy and perplexed, and not able to fully digest all that has
happened today.
In
a heartbreaking moment, Flynn turns on his father by calling the police and
telling them that he pulled a knife on his mother and killed someone. Their
relationship, which had been tremendously strong and bursting with oodles of
affection and love, becomes blemished in such a short time. As White is leaving
the house fully aware his family has become dismantled, he takes the only
person part of his family who does not hate him: his baby.
Soon
after, Bryan Cranston delivers his best soliloquy of all time when he unleashes
his thoughts on his wife. He was so convincingly believable and everything felt
truthful. At the same time, in his irregular way, he essentially saved Skyler
from getting in trouble, as something tells me that he knew the cops were
listening, by putting the entire blame on himself. Even though it was likely to
save her, him going off on her was one my favorite moments in TV history. I
hate Skyler so much, and I just hope that she fully gets her comeuppance for
being, in Walter’s words, a bitch.
The
line, “I still have things to do.” by Walt is a perfect way to explain the
final two episodes left of this show. The pieces have been impeccably
 put in place of building and completing this masterpiece, but it is not
over yet.  This episode was exquisitely written, acted, and
directed. It was terrifyingly forbidding, disconcerting and downright malicious
at times, and it was the most penetrating, cruel, horrific, and elegantly
written episode of the season.
It
is almost scary to think that we have two more left that could be even better.