Spotlight 5:19.2 – Godzilla, Part 2

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The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast returns with Part 2 of our look at the new GODZILLA film, this time with guest Joe Sena and host Steve Biodrowski leaving the heavy thematic discussions behind to focus on the film’s strengths as joyful genre entertainment. This episode follows after 5:19.1, in which guest Steve Ryfle dissected the film’s short-comings vis-a-vis Godzilla’s history as a metaphor for nuclear destruction. Ideally, the two parts would have been synthesized into a single podcast, as they balance each other nicely; unfortunately, scheduling and technical difficulties presented this. If possibly, we recommend you listen to them back-to-back.


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Godzilla – Radio Film Review

Yep, GODZILLA is still King of the Monsters (and a helluva tourist attraction).
Yep, GODZILLA is still King of the Monsters (and a helluva tourist attraction).

Turns out maintaining a presence in the social network only makes life more complex for a film critic. I had to delay my viewing of GODZILLA ’til Sunday, meantime trying to avoid the various hosannas and the occasional nay-say (not to mention Steve Biodrowski’s own in-depth analysis) being splattered all over Facebook, Twitter, etc. An impossible task, actually, and I went into the theater a little anxious over whether what little feedback had filtered through to me was somehow going to skew my reaction, for good or ill.
Happily, I was well pleased with GODZILLA. Not staggered, no, but grateful that director Gareth Edwards managed to pay homage to the history of the franchise while adding some crucial elements to the exercise, elements that I explore in my review for WBAI 99.5FM’s HOUR OF THE WOLF. Click the player to hear what I had to say.

Right-click to download: GODZILLA – Radio Film Review

LISTEN TO HOUR OF THE WOLF
EVERY THURSDAY AT 1:30 AM
ON WBAI 99.5FM IN NEW YORK CITY

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Godzilla: Spotlight Podcast 5:19.1

Godzilla art crop
Godzilla has stormed into theatres, and he’s too big to fit into one podcast! That’s right: this week the Cinefantastique Spotlight will be presented in two parts. The first features regulars Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski, along with special guest Steve Ryfle (author of Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biograph of the Big G). Listen in for insightful commentary about the new film version of GODZILLA, from Warner Brothers Pictures and Legendary Pictures, which has crushed the box office competition flatter than its titular monster razing a skyscraper to the ground.
Come back soon for Part Two!


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Godzilla (2014) review

Godzilla art horizontal
Is Legendary Pictures’ GODZILLA the perfect re-imagining of the classic kaiju character as the star of a Hollywood blockbuster? No. Is it a decent antidote to the disappointing 1998 film from Sony Pictures? Yes. Does that mean the new film is a mediocrity that falls somewhere in the middle? Hell no. For all its dramaturgical faults, GODZILLA captures the fundamental nature of its radioactive reptile in a manner that eclipses its weaknesses, like the shadow of Godzilla himself eclipsing the efforts of the puny humans frantically scurrying beneath his feet. Unlike Rolland Emmerich and Dean Devilin in their 1998 fiasco, which diminished its GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) into nothing more than an over-sized lizard, director Gareth Edwards and screenwriter Max Borenstein realize that Godzilla’s power lies in his stature – not only physical but also metaphoric. Godzilla must be more than large enough to fill the IMAX screen; he must be large enough to fill our collective imagination.  This is GODZILLA’s singular triumph: it invests its titular character with a Sense of Wonder that outweighs his mere bulk, lingering in the mind after that last building has toppled and the last roar has faded from the soundtrack.

THE STORY

godzilla05GODZILLA begins with Dr. Ishiro Serizawa1 (Ken Watanabe) and his assistant (Sally Hawkins) examining a giant skeleton of a beast apparently felled by a pair of prehistoric parasites, one of which heads toward Japan, where a nuclear power plant goes haywire, causing the death of Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche). Years later, Sandra’s husband Joe (Bryan Cranston) has become estranged from his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) while devoting his life to proving that his wife’s death was the result of something more than an ordinary accident. The parasite (later dubbed a MUTO, for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) reawakens and goes searching for its mate, and the U.S. military, led by Admiral William Stenz (David Strathairn) wrestle with the thorny problem of how to stop apparently unstoppable creatures with an appetite for nuclear material – including bombs. Fortunately, in the words of Dr. Serizawa, the MUTOs are being hunted by an ancient apex predator, Gojira (a.k.a. Godzilla), who will restore the balance of nature upset by the MUTO’s access to a vast new food source, thanks to the proliferation of nuclear energy.
Borenstein’s screenplay (developed from a story by Dave Callaham) is stretched a bit thin in its attempt to provide an epic-sized vehicle for its titular monster. The problem is not with the number of incidents – there is plenty happening in the film. Nor is it necessarily with the characters, who are sketched in basic terms but are more than serviceable (aided by solid performances). What’s missing is a larger dramatic conflict – the sort of moral quandary that invested the original GOJIRA (1954) with a memorable gravitas, rendering the film as something much larger than a mere genre piece.
The closest GODZILLA comes to this is with the decision to use a hydrogen bomb in an attempt to distract the radiation-hungry monsters from converging on San Francisco – a decision opposed by Dr Serizawa, whose father died in the nuclear blast at Hiroshima. However, this element winds up being less a thematic development than a plot device, galvanizing the human action during the titanic tag-team wrestling match that makes up the third act.

THE DETAILS

godzilla-trailer-02The story deficiency weakens the film but, fortunately, is not nearly enough to knock the crown off the King of the Monsters. The plot may be thin, but that is almost beside the point when director Edwards imbues the images with a serious tone that renders the action believable even when it is at its most incredible. (In a weird way, GODZILLA is like Darren Aronfsky’s NOAH, which unabashedly embraced not only genre fantasy but also sheer physical impossibility  while simultaneously selling its tale with a layer of straight-faced realism – cognitive dissonance be damned.)
Edwards’ gift, previously displayed in his low-budget MONSTERS (2010), is the ability to depict an apparently believable, human world, in which unbelievable monsters exist, affecting people’s lives and altering their very perception of the world – even when the monsters are off-screen. Consequently, when the monsters do show up, their appearances register not as obligatory set-pieces carefully and generously distributed to satisfy genre junkies (I’m looking at you, PACIFIC RIM); instead of empty spectacle, GODZILLA evokes a sense of overwhelming tragedy, of civilization poised on the brink of destruction, of humanity perhaps on the verge of extinction.
And in case you haven’t heard, Godzilla is off-screen quite a bit, but that’s all part of the film’s carefully wrought strategy.
Edwards plays his hand like a master card sharp, holding his trump cards in reserve until he can lay them down when they will score the most points. He teases us with a series of tantalizing glimpses: a massive shape surging beneath a battleship; a glimpse of a tail from behind a building; a brief battle seen via televised news report; dangling claws and chest scales illuminated by flares; dorsal spines slicing through the ocean like the shark’s fin in JAWS.2
Edwards is not enough of a visual poet to carry off the gambit completely. The tease does lead to a massively satisfying pay-off when GODZILLA finally emerges in all his glory, but until then, the slow build-up sometimes seems merely slow. The opening sequence of Dr. Serizawa examining the underground remains of another Godzilla skeleton, for example, is merely adequate, when it should be awe-inspiring, sending shivers of anticipation down the spine. A little patience may be required from over-eager audiences, but that patience will be rewarded many times over. When the King of the Monsters finally unleashes his most famous power near the end, it’s a jaw-dropping moment of glorious spectacle, but it is all the more satisfying because it is not played as a sop to Godzilla geeks eager to sate their hunger for more of what they saw when they were kids attending bargain matinees in their local theatres; instead, it is depicted with all the immediacy of something newly discovered, and for at least one brief moment, the neophytes and the veterans can unite in communal joy, as if both are witnessing the event for the first time – an impression enhanced a thousand fold by the awestruck audio reaction from the screen, as one character gasps: “DID YOU SEE THAT?!…WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!”
I may seem to be over-emphasizing a single moment, but there is a method to my madness. The fundamental failing of the 1998 Godzilla was diminishing – or even completely eliminating – the awe-inspiring aspects of its monster. Boronstein, Edwards, and the technical craftsmen embrace this aspect and bring it to convincing life, partly with modern, high-tech cinematic craftsmanship, but mostly through the use of a human perspective on the events, which allows the audience to engage directly and uncritically, without undue reliance on suspension of disbelief, ironic detachment, or fond nostalgia.
That’s the power of this GODZILLA: not in “re-imagining” or “re-booting” the past, but in taking raw materials from the old films and refining them into something that feels newly created instead of merely recycled with a bigger budget and better effects. Yes, it’s still only a movie, but you don’t have to keep telling yourself that to gloss over the weaknesses; you can simply be enthralled – not from reliving old memories, but from enjoying this experience now.

THE MONSTERS

godzilla_2014__the_winged_muto_by_sonichedgehog2-d7aqlg7With Godzilla playing coy throughout most of the running time, it is up to the MUTOs to satisfy the film’s monster movie mayhem requirements. This mated pair  – a larger female, a smaller male with wings – are insectoid in appearance, with elements seemingly borrowed from Gayos (an opponent of Godzilla’s rival, Gamera) and the Orga from GODZILLA 2000, not to mention the titular creatures in Edwards’ own MONSTERS.  Though destructive and frightening, they do evoke a tiny spark of sympathy when the male passes along a tasty treat (well, an H-bomb) to its companion: if only they weren’t going to breed and overrun the world, they might seem almost endearing. More to the point, they make for intimidating foes – one purely terrestrial, the other aerial – as they deliver a monumental tag-team beating to Godzilla.
Godzilla himself retains the classic elements of the familiar design – a scaly, upright-walking dinosaur with dorsal fins and an angry, reptilian appearance – but those elements have been adjusted. Once a mere 100-feet tall, this new Godzilla towers over his older selves, at 350 feet. He also looks heavier, more muscular, like the kaiju equivalent of a barroom bouncer, and his face suggests a battered old boxer, used to receiving and dealing out punishment.
Of course, this Godzilla has been rendered with modern computer graphics instead of a man-in-a-suit, but the problems of CGI (cartoony movements, lack of inertia) have been overcome, providing marvelously realized special effects with the spirit of the best of Godzilla’s old Toho films – which is to say, the action is allowed to play out so that you can see it, without any editorial razzle-dazzle to goose up the sequences (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay). There is a convincing sense of momentum to the monster’s actions, and the massive scale is effectively suggested by slowing the  movements down (though not as much as in PACIFIC RIM); the 3D photography, though not essential to the film’s overall effectiveness, enhances the illusion that we are seeing large objects at a distance (as opposed to the old-fashioned miniatures, tricked up to look big by placing them close to the camera lens).
There is a tactile quality to the monsters, which makes them seem like living, breathing creatures, not just computer-animated creations, and Godzilla actually gives something approaching a performance, in both his facial expressions and his body language. (His post-battle collapse suggests an exhausted warrior falling like a deflated balloon, leading to an image almost as iconic as the final panel from The Death of Superman.)
Interestingly, this performance was captured without the use of performance capture. Though mo-cap specialist Andy Serkis (who played Gollum and King Kong) consulted to enhance Godzilla’s movements, the special effects footage was actually computer-animated. (Director Edwards says motion-capture would have worked had Godzilla been fighting another two-legged beast that could be portrayed by an actor, but the multi-legged MUTOs required CGI handling.)
The result is somewhat akin to the 1990s era Godzilla, a massive hulk that implacably repulses the attacks of any opponents. Though the story pushes him into heroic mode, there is nothing benign in his countenance; rather, this is a mean-ass junkyard dog who just happens to hate on the thing attacking San Francisco. Oh well, the “enemy of my enemy,” as the saying goes.

THEMES

The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight.

Godzilla takes one for the team at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Godzilla takes one for the team at the Golden Gate Bridge. Military action backfires, nearly killing civilians, but for the intervention of the Big G.

Thus speaks Dr. Serizawa, precipitating the final act of GODZILLA. If he sounds a bit oracular, delivering the film’s message here and elsewhere rather unapologetically, that is actually an appropriate part of Godzilla’s tradition. Godzilla was conceived in 1954 as a none-too-subtle metaphor  – in essence, a walking nuclear weapon, a living embodiment of the perils of the atomic age. This element diminished throughout numerous sequels in the 1960s and ’70s, which eventually turned Godzilla into a hero defending Earth from alien invaders such as King Ghidorah. When the character was revived in the ’80s and ’90s, his atomic origins were acknowledged once again, though the emphasis shifted. Godzilla was no longer merely a nuclear menace; he was nature’s reaction to mankind’s tampering with the atom. Thus he could be seen as in some sense a righteous character, an anti-hero whose city-stomping destruction was the consequence of mankind’s actions but whose defense of his territory yielded benefits for humanity, who otherwise might have been destroyed by the numerous monsters Godzilla defeated.
The new GODZILLA film follows through on this later idea. Godzilla is still a prehistoric creature awakened by nuclear science (by an atomic submarine rather than an atomic bomb, if I heard correctly), but he is not necessarily here to extract vengeance for that awakening. Instead, the MUTOs are the real monsters of the story, their nuclear appetite for destruction fueling the plot, and it is Godzilla’s job to balance the scales (though not without collateral damage).
Though not literally faithful to Godzilla’s original conception, the Warner Brothers film is a smart updating that speaks to current concerns; like a text translated into a new language, it has been rendered in a form that speaks to its new audience, conveying the ideas if not the exact words.
When GOJIRA (later released as GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS in the U.S.) stomped into Japanese theatres in 1954, it was seen not only in the context of the nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima; it directly referenced U.S. H-bomb testing in the Pacific Ocean, which irradiated the crew of the Japanese fishing boat, The Lucky Dragon. This sort of topical reference is used in the new film, but with fear of bombs and nuclear testing no longer at the forefront of our public consciousness, Edwards and Boronstein opt for an attack on a nuclear power station, eliciting painful recollections of the ill-fated Fukushima plant. We may no longer lose sleep over nuclear Armageddon, but Fukushima reminded us radiation poisoning is still a fearful long-term problem – and one that may be symptomatic of a larger problem regarding our treatment of the planet on which we live.
GODZILLA brings that fear to life and embodies it in the MUTOs, whom Godzilla must destroy to save the Earth. This may seem like a bit of a cheat, robbing Godzilla of his own metaphor, but it works in the context of this film3, which suggests that humanity is incapable of fixing its mistakes. We are told that, after Godzilla was awakened, the subsequent nuclear bomb tests were actually unsuccessful attempts to destroy the beast. Though not emphasized, this is a subtle condemnation of U.S. Cold War policy, in which the answer to the problem of nuclear weapons was – wait for it! –  even more nuclear weapons.
The point is underlined when the military initiates its plan to destroy all three monsters with yet another H-Bomb, hoping that the blast will be enough to destroy creatures that would otherwise thrive on the resulting radiation. The insanity of the proposal is not lost on Dr. Serizawa, who – in one of the film’s most touching moments – displays a pocket watch that belonged to his father – a watched that stopped when his father died at Hiroshima, its frozen hands like an eternal reminder of the horrific event. A chastened Admiral Stenz can only silently acknowledge Serizawa’s point and then continue with the plan anyway – because that’s what the military does, regardless of whether it makes sense.
The result very nearly causes even greater destruction for San Francisco, which is averted only because of the combined efforts of Ford and Godzilla (in one of the script’s nicer touches, the human protagonist is actually given something more important to do than simply watch the monster action from afar). This stands in marked contrast to the more archetypal message of American science fiction films (such as Godzilla’s progenitor, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS), which suggested that nuclear science, working hand in hand with the military, would solve any of the problems it caused.
GODZILLA is clearly less optimistic about our abilities to auto-correct ourselves.

CONCLUSION

With its nuclear disasters and tidal waves suggesting nature thrown out of balance by mankind, GODZILLA pitches itself as a pop-message movie laced up in genre attributes. Though the actions of the human characters may be somewhat generic, the film itself is anything but. Whatever its weaknesses, GODZILLA sells itself, its message, and its monster to the audience – unabashedly and unapologetically. It suffers no undue restraint from fear of indulging in the absurd, but nor does it rely on audience good will to see it over its dramatic short-comings. Unlike PACIFIC RIM, this is no Geek Movie, simply sending out dog whistles to the tribe of the already initiated. This GODZILLA works overtime to earn any good will it receives from the audience, and for that reason, it works as well for newbies and initiates alike.
Or put it another way: In an era of over-hyped blockbusters, each straining to be bigger, louder, and more cataclysmic than the competition, GODZILLA takes a relatively low-key approach to deliver not just what fans want but what audiences need: incredible entertainment that seems somehow credible.
[rating=4]
Out of five stars on the CFQ scale: must see.
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GODZILLA (May 15/16, 2014). From Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures. Directed by Gareth Edwards. Screenplay by Max Boronstein, from a story by Dave Callaham. Music: Alexandre Desplat. Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey. Editing: Bob Ducsay. Production Design: Owne Paterson. Special effects: WETA Digital, Jim Rigiel; John Dykstra.  PG-13. 123 minutes. Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Straithairn, Akira Takarada.
FOOTNOTES:

  1. The name of Watanabe’s character conflates the first name of GOJIRA director Ishiro Honda with the last name of Dr. Serizawa, the character who sacrifices himself to destroy the beast at the end of the original film.
  2. Other critics have noted similarities to Steven Spielberg’s gradual revelation of the Great White, but a more apt comparison would be to Ridley Scott’s clever did-you-or-didn’t-you-see-it game in ALIEN.
  3. This plot device also recalls GODZILLA VS HEDORAH (1971, a.k.a. GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTERS), in which Godzilla’s opponent was a metaphor for the harm mankind had done to the environment. Since Toho films stopped making Godzilla films in 2004, director Yoshimitsu Banno had been trying to launch a sequel to GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH. The project eventually led to the current GODZILLA film, on which Banno receives an executive producer credit, so it is perhaps not too surprising that there would be some similarities.

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Jack the Giant Slayer: Review

Jack-the-Giant-Slayer-Poster-439x650There’s no magic in this beanstalk, and viewers foolish enough to spend money on tickets are likely to feel as cheated as Jack when told he’s been swindled out of a horse and cart for a few worthless beans. The root of the problem lies in a fatal uncertainty about exactly what JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is supposed to be: a grim fairy tale, a light-hearted adventured, or an epic LORD OF THE RINGS knock-off. Whatever the intent, with its British flavor and oddball mix of humor and horror applied to a fanciful childhood tale, the film recalls JABBERWOCKY (1977). The misbegotten result would seem to suggest that only Terry Gilliam should direct Terry Gilliam films. (After all, if he couldn’t get it right, why should we expect anyone else to?)
The jumbled screenplay (credited to four different writers) mixes in bits of “Jack the Giant Killer,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and the “King Incognito” plot device (in which a royal personage takes on the guise of a peasant in order to get a street-level view of the kingdom). There is also a love story and a villain plotting to overthrow a kingdom, and needless to say, there is a third-act ogre battle.
If this sounds like more than enough to fill up an entertaining movie, then I am not doing my job, because JACK THE GIANT SLAYER feels empty – of warmth, romance, humor, and most especially wonder. The exposition plods; the jokes fall flat; the adventure stalls; and the love story withers on the … beanstalk, I guess.
Director Bryan Singer is undoubtedly talented, but he does not have the required deft touch for this sort of thing, nor does his frequent collaborator, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie. The opening prologue is a cut-rate version of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, telling us what we need to know without making us care. The “clever” cross cutting between Isabelle the Princess and Jack the farm boy foreshadows their eventual union, but the parallels are ridiculously exact and leave the end result in absolutely no doubt, so that the love story feels over before it begins.

Two heads are not better than one for this giant
Two heads are not better than one for this giant

Unable to install a Sense of Wonder into the proceedings, Singer and McQuarrie eventually resort to visceral  shocks. Giants (whose visages are impressively detailed if not cleverly designed or particularly expressive) munch and crunch their victims, both animal and human, which seems a bit daring (though not explicit, thanks to the PG-13 rating), but in the end it amounts to little more than gratuitous titillation, something seen and then forgotten in time for the happy ending.
In a way, this points up the difficult of transferring fairy tales to the screen. The strength of the original lies in its simplicity and in its literary form: terrible things happen – as when, for example, the Big Bad Wolf devours the first two of the Three Little Pigs – but those deaths are abstract and symbolic on the page, a warning that bad behavior leads to bad ends, while the audience identification figure survives by doing the right thing. The characters are archetypal, without distinguishing details to bring them to life in a way that would make them mourn their demise. Children can enjoy these stories without being traumatized, enjoying the thrill of fear and the cathartic satisfaction when their hero triumphs, often by exactly a grizzly retribution on the villain – a safe, simple morality tale that works precisely because there is no gray area to cloud the issue. Movies, which usually at least attempt to create individual characters have it a lot tougher; the visceral impact is stronger, eclipsing the moral point, which in any case is usually not profound enough to warrant being expanded beyond a few pages.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER certainly has little to say that would suffice to justify the running time. Unless you think it is profound wisdom to opine people of lowly station may aspire to something bigger. Or that a princess should get to know her kingdom. Or that her father shouldn’t marry her off to a scoundrel. Strangely, for all its attempts to build Eleanor up as a strong female lead, her role remains that of a damsel in distress; her appearance in armor is just another form of bling, not indicating that she is actually going to do anything.
Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor

But wait, not all is lost. Although romantic leads Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson are undermined by the script insistence on keeping them bland (Hoult made a much better lover when he was a zombie in WARM BODIES), the supporting cast shine through. Ewan McGregor is dashing as the princess guard, Elmont; his confident smile hits just the right tone – almost tongue-in-cheek, but not quite. Ian McShane is an impressive king. Bill Nighy provides an intimidating voice for the lead giant, General Fallon.
Best of all is Stanley Tucci as the scheming Roderick. In fact, he is too good. He makes you hate him so much you want to see him dispatched with – well – dispatch, but if and when that happens, what else has the movie got?
Stanely Tucci steals the giant's throne - and the movie.
Stanely Tucci steals the giant's throne - and the movie.

Well, the film does have that colossal confrontation toward the conclusion, when the giants rain down on humanity like organic meteors. The siege is reasonably well done because it relies not only on visual flair (giants hurling burning trees over the castle walls) but also on at least halfway believable depictions of how a human army might attempt to hold off a horde of giants. Truthfully, a bit more could have been done with this (showcasing – for example – how leverage might be applied by a smaller adversary to topple a larger foe), but at least the screenplay pulls off an interesting variation on “Chekov’s Gun” (you know, the one that’s loaded in the first act and therefore must be fired in the third) – in this case, a leftover magic bean that Jack puts to good use at a crucial moment.
As is almost obligatory these days, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is being presented in 3D engagements. Although officially not a post-production conversion, the film often looks like one. The early quiet scenes (of our lead characters as children, listening to bedtime stories) do provide a nice sense of depth, as the production design offers a genuine fairy tale ambiance. But once Jack and the Princess grow to young adulthood, and the action-adventure elements take over, Singer opts for camera angles and lens choices that create a resolutely flat look, with only a mild separation between the characters and the backgrounds. In a few cases, when we see human from the POV of giants looking down, the results are noticeably bizarre, with the human form stretched to ridiculous proportions, suggesting Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.
Nicholas Hoult rides the beanstalk
Nicholas Hoult rides the beanstalk

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is another sad example of a big-budget movie with all the production value Hollywood can offer (including a fine score by John Ottman) but little in the way of inspiration. If not for the spark of life provided by the cast, the film would be dead as a diver after leaping off the rocky cliffs of the giant’s land in the clouds. In striving to be big in execution, the film feels small in imagination – a fact strangely underlined in Singer’s occasional choice of downward camera angles that lend a diminutive-looking stature to the giants. Taking something meant to be large and making it look small is no great accomplishment. If, instead, Singer had taken Warwick Davis (who shows up in a bit part) and cast him as a giant – now, that would have shown at least a touch of wit.
[rating=2]
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013). Directed by Bryan Singer. Screenplay by Darren Lemke and Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney; story by Darren Lemke & David Dobkin. A production by Warner Brothers Pictures, New Line Entertainment, Legendary Pictures. Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, Ian McShane, Warwick Davis, Bill Nighy.

'Dark Knight Rises': TV Spot #3

Here’s the third TV spot for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, this time concentrating on Bruce Wanye (Christian Bale) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).
Also starring Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Directed by Christopher Nolan, from a screenplay by Nolan and Jonathan Nolan (story by David S. Goyer).
In theaters and IMAX July 20th from Warner Brothers Pictures, DC Entertainment and Legendary Pictures.

2nd 'Wrath of the Titans' Trailer

Here’s the second, more monster-filled trailer for WRATH OF THE TITANS, sequel to the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake/re-boot.

“A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus—the demigod son of Zeus—is attempting to live a quieter life as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius.
Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity’s lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous underworld.
Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus’ godly son  Ares, switch loyalty and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus.
The Titans’ strength grows stronger as Zeus’ remaining godly powers are siphoned… “

wrath-of-the-titans-posterStarring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Rosamund Pike, and Ralph Fiennes.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman from a screenplay by Dan Mazeau David Johnson, and Greg Berlanti.
Due out March 30th from Legendary Pictures, Thunder Road, and Warner Brothers Pictures.

Hughes Leaves 'Akira'

AKIRAmangaDeadline.com reports that Albert Hughes (THE BOOK OF ELI) is stepping down as director of Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures live action adaptation of the popular Manga/Anime series AKIRA.
Based on the sci-fi ‘cyber-punk’ comic book  by  Katsuhiro Otomo,  Warner Brothers Pictures vision of and approach to AKIRA has apparently wavered somewhat over the past year. 
A 2010 script by Steve Kloves (HARRY POTTER series, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) changed the setting of the film from the post-apocalyptic ‘New Tokyo’ to ‘New Manhattan’, and more or less ‘Americanized’ the young characters, members of futuristic gangs and subjects of experiments into psychic powers.  
The studio has been unsure about the production’s budget and cast, vacillating between a more modest film with up-and coming actors, and a big budget epic with major stars.
Keanu Reeves (THE MATRIX) had been briefly connected with the project, but left recently, which hints that the film has been scaled back down. 
Whether this has a bearing on Hughes leaving the film is unclear, though the site notes that the parting seems to be amicable, with Warner Brothers offering the director a selection of other projects.
It also looks as though the studio remains eager to make the movie, and is actively looking to attract a new director to take over the reins.

Amy Adams Cast as Lois Lane

Amy_Adams_1Warner Brothers Pictures and Legendary Pictures announced that Amy Adams (THE FIGHTER, ENCHANTED) will star in the role of Lois Lane in the new Zack Snyder-directed Superman feature film.
Snyder remarked: “Second only to Superman himself, the question of who will play Lois Lane is arguably what fans have been most curious about. So we are excited to announce the casting of Amy Adams, one of the most versatile and respected actresses in films today. Amy has the talent to capture all of the qualities we love about Lois: smart, tough, funny, warm, ambitious and, of course, beautiful.”
Amy Adams has been nominated for an Oscar three times, most recently for THE FIGHTER.

'Sucker Punch' Trailer & Tidbits

In Zack Snyder’s SUCKER PUNCH, a otherwise orphaned young woman called Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is committed to a mental institution by her stepfather. Using an dream world (or is it?) to deal with her situation, she enlists her fellow female inmates to plan an escape—before she’s lobotimized.
This involves them all entering her alternate reality. On the first level, Baby Doll and her allies Sweet Pea ( Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung) as all call girls in a theatrical brothel, coached  by Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) and visited by by the High Roller (Jon Hamm).
However, there’s also a timeless battlefield which the Wiseman (Scott Glenn) tells them is the key to their escape, provided they can bring back five items for which they will have to battle everything from WWI soliders, robots and dragons to obtain.
An unusual project, written by Zack Synder and Steve Shibuya (largely known for 2nd Unit and FX work), the film includes popular songs and dance numbers by the cast, along with wild and fantastical combat scenes. 
Speaking to Coming Soon, Synder commented that on this film, where he is not adapting someone else’s graphic novel-based work, there was something of a different feeling.

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“…It was a little bit more freeing, I gotta say it was a little bit of a vacation from these massive iconology films that I’ve been working on, although in a weird way, we still ended up doing this… in my mind when I started talking about the project, it was going to be this kind of straight-forward thing and then as you work on it, it has really evolved into, I gotta say, a pretty complicated and complex structural and a sort of psychological study that we ended up doing.

It was kind of like “300,” and we basically used the same production methodology as “300,” because you had real enemies that were just dressed like WWI guys and then we had the girls fighting them, and we had sets for the trenches and sets for No Man’s Land and that was the approach.
 In that way, it was kind of comforting to start with that early on because it was like we all got in on the groove and we understood how to shoot it.
Zack Synder also revealed that he expects to begin filming SUPERMAN (THE MAN OF STEEL) this August.

SUCKER PUNCH opens this Friday, March 25th in theaters and IMAX from Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers.