Godzilla -2014-

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Directed by Gareth Edwards. 123 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Seen at Arclight Hollywood)

This film is the best totally unnecessary franchise reboot since 2012’s surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Director Gareth Edwards, who made the decent Monsters for next to nothing in 2010, packs Godzilla with a (relatively) old-fashioned sense of blockbuster awe, coming off as a second-generation Abrams (or third-generation Spielberg). While it’s wise to imitate the best if you’re going to imitate at all, Edwards’ stylistic inspiration is a double-edged sword. For every awesome shot, there’s a distractingly derivative shot of a stoic child looking at an approaching threat (á la Close Encounters, ET, Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, War of the Worlds) or some other tired device.

Edwards’ roots in microbudget filmmaking is a blessing and a curse in the execution of the titular monster. While his decision to focus on human drama rather than dumb Bayish or Emmerichian action works more often than not, I think the film is a little too conservative with its use of Godzilla. Like, I don’t need the dude to be in every frame, but may we please have a little more Godzilla? Godzilla appears in Godzilla about as much as Julius Caesar appears in Julius Caesar. He appears late in the game and sporadically from there on out. At least Peter Jackson made King Kong all about Kong once you waited two hours to see him.

Aside: Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins do a splendid job of looking eternally incredulous.

Aside: Aren’t we kind of over the insectoid kaiju thing? We’ve already seen Cloverfield and Pacific Rim. Think of something new.

Aside: The opening  music (composed by Alexandre Desplat) and credits are fantastic.

(Seen and written on 2014-05-19)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein -1948-

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Directed by Charles Barton. 83 mins.

Worth my time? No. (Seen at the New Beverly Cinema, Hollywood)

I saw this movie about a week ago, and I’ve been putting off my write-up because I didn’t want to spend any more time thinking to this piece of shit. There’s a lot of “classic comedy” that fuckin’ blows, and from what I’ve seen, Abbott and Costello make every Three Stooges short look like The Gold Rush by comparison.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein has a reputation for being one of the better later Universal monster movies which doesn’t speak highly of its predecessors. I love Dracula and the first two Frankenstein films, but these creatures ran out of steam with Son of Frankenstein. Why did the studio think that adding the stupid hijinks of A&C into the mix would help? They must have wanted to get more use out of old sets before tearing them down.

I never was much of a Wolf Man fan, but Lon Chaney, Jr. is easily the best part of the movie. Bela Lugosi looks desperate, and Glenn Strange (playing The Monster) is a poor substitute for Boris Karloff. How do you fuck up playing a corpse, Glenn?

On the upside, I found this rad Eastern European poster for the film. It’s way more entertaining than the movie itself.

(Seen on 2014-04-27, written on 2014-05-02)

Bride of Frankenstein -1935-

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Directed James Whale. 75 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on Netflix Instant View)

The sequel to the 1931 horror classic is the Evil Dead 2 of its time. Not only does it quickly go through the events of its predecessor (by way of a bizarre, Kaufmanian frame story featuring the Shelleys and Lord Byron), but it also has a self-awareness and sense of humor that I wasn’t expecting. Dr. Pretorius (the new villain played by Ernest Thesiger) takes the mad scientist to an absurd level with his jars full of tiny, gerbil-voiced actors. Didn’t see that coming.

Karloff’s Monster is much more sympathetic character this time around. Yeah, he’s still violent, but it’s clearer that all he wants is acceptance. His friendship with the blind hermit (inspired by a segment of the original novel) and subsequent education turns the Monster into a smoking, drinking, fun-loving sort of undead dude.

I was bummed that the Bride only has about one minute of screentime, but the ending is way cooler than the original. Lots of explosions, panic, and one of the best final lines of any movie I’ve seen:

“You stay. We belong dead.”

Aside: The writers’ rationale for how the Monster survived the end of the first film seemed like bullshit to me.

(Seen and written on 2013-12-11)