Trailers

Trailer watch: Godzilla (2014)

Having laid dormant for more than a decade, one of the most celebrated monsters of cinema returns to the big screen in Hollywood’s second imagining of Japan’s biggest import. Godzilla, the much anticipated new film in the long running franchise stakes claim as the preeminent city-destroying beast once again next May.

Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn and Juliette Binoche, Godzilla is the “epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, a spectacular adventure pitting the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.”

The film is the spiritual successor to the 1998 Roland Emmerich film of the same name. That film, while doing fairly well at the box office, failed to impress critics and fans of the series with its hokey dialogue and much revamped monster. Next year’s Gareth Edwards-directed film however, looks to be true to the original Godzilla concept, with the monster looking more like the traditional Japanese vision. I am however, one of the few that enjoyed the 1998 version of the film, but this new movie certainly looks much larger in scale and far less comical than its predecessor. The trademark Godzilla roar at the trailer’s end was all I needed to be on board come next May.

The trailer unfolds in a strange serenity; a beautiful descent from the skies into the destruction, madness and chaos of a world torn apart by monsters. Straitharn’s narration gives the film gravitas, and the smoke-clad unveiling of Godzilla almost awe-inspiring.

Godzilla features a screenplay co-written by Frank Darabont, Max Borenstein and David Callaham. If we’re lucky, Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page will be nowhere near the soundtrack.

May 16th, 2014, Gojira returns.

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Film, Film Reviews

Film Review: Pacific Rim

Somewhere between the minds that created Japanese Manga, mecha beasts and Hell demons comes Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Offering a glutinous feast of sight and sound for all the senses, Hollywood’s latest entry into the monster movie cannon is the personification of the Americanized Japanese blockbuster. While the spate of recent apocalyptic fare has offered up cynicism with its dose of explosive, Del Toro’s monster flick has far more optimism written in. Like the historical nature of the Japanese monster movie, there is a very clear definition between good and evil, and much of the characters’ hope comes from the promise of a rising sun.

Pacific Rim is massive, both in size and detail, and throws the viewer into the middle of the coda from the onset. Humanity has been thrust into a titanic battle with giant monsters that have emerged from the depths of our oceans. These leviathans (known as Kaijus) came through the seas and have forced humanity to build equally terrifying mechanical beasts (built as Jaegers) in retaliation. This exposition comes very quickly in the opening stanza of the film, and before you can dig in to your popcorn we’re shot 5 years into the present where the battle between man-made beast and beast is at its pinnacle. It’s a little bit of a shame we do not get the same gradual storytelling the way Independence Day unfolded, as while there is no time wasted before we’re into the meat of Pacific Rim, it would be have been a fascinating exploration into the reveal of these monsters if Del Toro would have spent more than 5 minutes explaining their sudden appearance on Earth.

jaegerThe cast is led by the booming presence of Idris Elba, whose headstrong-into-battle marshalling of the supporting cast is a pretty decent homage to Bill Pullman’s noble Presidential turn in ID4 (right down to the motivational speech). Alongside, Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) portrays Raleigh Beckett, your everyman hero; talented and charismatic, leading the charge against the monsters. His occasional brooding is brought upon by the burden of his past, and serves as both motivation and a hindrance to his return into the Jaeger program. His new co-pilot is Rinko Kikuchi’s (Babel) Mako Mori, whose deft touch to deceiving Asian frailty is offset by her ability to nail down her need to kick-ass when required. Similarly, her backstory takes the audience to perhaps the film’s most touching moment- the young Mako hunted through the city streets by a Kaiju (played by youngster Mana Ashida, who already has 23 titles to her resume). There is a real terrifying sense of hopelessness and fear to her character, and it really takes the audience far into the film’s best human moment.

As humanity and their machines battle the beasts, we find that the Kaiju continue to evolve and that their end game is unexpected. It is up to two wily scientists (played with some timely humour by Charlie Day and with odd Britishness by Burn Gorman) to figure out a way to effectively end the Kaiju menace. From here, we’re treated to some of the most exhilarating and breathtaking big screen CGI battles we’ve ever seen, and there is almost an operatic tone to Del Toro’s vision. While Michael Bay and Zack Snyder are happy to punch you in the head for 2+ hours, Del Toro adds a little song and dance to the fold. From the oceans to the metropolis streets, the collision of steel and flesh unfolds in the most effective and detailed carnage yet. It’s beautiful destruction without the fatigue.

“Those who grew up with Japanese robot cinema, or even kooky television shows like Dai Sentai Goggle-V, will know that there is a youthful veneer to all the beasts and destruction.”

Expectedly, there is some glorious cheese to the dialogue (and the Australian accents placed on the Australian Jaeger pilots are at times, excruciating), but Del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham know that it isn’t Shakespearean context that will successfully connect all the action. It’s about being funny at the right times, being overly dramatic in others, and doing their best to be human the rest. Those who grew up with Japanese robot cinema, or even kooky television shows like Dai Sentai Goggle-V, will know that there is a youthful veneer to all the beasts and destruction. It says that while there is evil, there are good protectors that will defend and fight for the rest of humanity. And in contrast to all the computer generated modernity of the picture, much of Pacific Rim is old fashioned in its sensibilities.

With Del Toro’s eye for detail, some good casting and a seriously fun attitude, Pacific Rim does what films like the Hollywood version of Godzilla couldn’t do; make the ridiculous believable, exciting and at times, just immensely breathtaking. Go see Pacific Rim at the largest screened cinema you can find, where the audio is cranked up to 11, and where they’ll charge you an extra few dollars for 3D glasses. You will be entertained.

Pacific Rim is in cinemas July 11th in Australia and July 12th in the United States.

 

PACIFIC RIM
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Written by: Travis Beachham, Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kickuchi, Charlie Day
Released by: Warner Bros.
Website: pacificrimmovie.com

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The first trailer for the much anticipated Wolverine film has now been released online. Starring Hugh Jackman in the titular role, The Wolverine is the second stand alone film based on the character. Following the mediocre return of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, the new film takes place in Japan, following Logan’s continued struggle to find mortality.

The new film is not a sequel to the 2009 film but does take place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Jackman is joined in the cast by noted Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada and Ralph Lauren model Hiroyuki Sanada. Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova plays Marvel character Viper in the film.

Originally slated to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, the film is now helmed by James Mangold (Walk the Line) and is set for theatrical release this July. The film looks more concerned with telling a great story than filling the minutes with Marvel characters;  a welcome change.

 

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