REVIEW: THE SIEGE

 

CAST

Denzel Washington (Training Day)

Annette Bening (American Beauty)

Bruce Willis (Red)

Tony Shalhoub (Men In Black)

Mark Valley (Human Target)

Lance Reddick (Fringe)

Chris Messina (Sharp Objects)
Mark Valley (Human Target)
Aasif Mandvi (The Dictator)
David Costabile (Breaking Bad)
Ali Afshar (Power Rangers Turbo)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Dave Mallow (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)

Following the bombing of an American military installation in the Middle East (the film shows footage from the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing), the U.S. government orchestrates the capture of the mastermind believed to be behind the attack, Sheikh Ahmed bin Talal. In New York City FBI Special Agent Anthony Hubbard (Washington) and his Lebanese-American partner Frank Haddad (Shalhoub) are told of a hijacked bus, fully loaded with passengers and containing an explosive device. The bomb turns out to be a paint bomb and the terrorists manage to escape. The FBI receives demands to release the sheikh.
Hubbard eventually comes into conflict with CIA agent Elise Kraft (Bening). Hubbard takes a terrorist suspect into custody and arrests Kraft. Afterwards another terrorist threat is made and an MTA bus is bombed, though the children on-board are permitted to leave before the bus is destroyed. When the FBI captures a person of interest named Samir Nazhde he admits to signing the visa application of one of the suicide bombers in the course of signing many applications for student visas in his job as a lecturer. However, Kraft insists that Samir is not a terrorist and that his continued freedom is vital to the investigation.
The FBI eventually identifies and storms a safehouse belonging to terrorists who are associated with the bombings. However, days later, new terror cells launch more devastating attacks, starting with the bombing of the New Victory Theater in Times Square during an evening performance. This is followed days later by a hostage situation at an elementary school (which is resolved when Hubbard shoots the hostage taker). Shortly after this, a suicide bomber drives a van full of explosives into the lobby of One Federal Plaza, the location of the FBI’s New York City field office, resulting in over 600 fatalities.
In spite of objections, the President of the United States declares martial law and armored vehicles and elements of the U.S. Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, under Major General William Devereaux (Willis), occupies and seals off Brooklyn in an effort to find the remaining terrorist cells. Subsequently all young males of Arab descent, including Haddad’s son Frank, Jr., are rounded up and detained in Yankee Stadium. Haddad resigns in protest. New Yorkers stage violent demonstrations against the army and the racial profiling of the Arabs and the Army fights to maintain control. There are reports of Army killings. When pressed by the White House Chief of Staff (Chip Zien) if the United States is holding the Sheikh, General Devereaux denies it.
Hubbard and Kraft, now revealed to be an agent named Sharon Bridger, continue their investigation and capture a suspect, Tariq Husseini. Using torture, Devereaux shoots and kills Husseini (off screen) in the course of the interrogation. Afterward, Bridger tells Hubbard that Husseini knew nothing of value because of the principle of compartmentalized information and, sickened, she finally tells Hubbard what she knows. It is revealed that she herself provided training and support to rebels opposed to Saddam Hussein’s regime, working with Samir to recruit and train the followers of the Sheikh. After the United States cut their funding and left them exposed, she took pity on the few of them who had not yet been slaughtered by Hussein’s forces, and arranged for them to escape to the United States, ultimately leading to the present situation as they turn their covert and bomb making skills on the country that now holds their Sheikh. She and Hubbard compel Samir to arrange a meeting with the final terrorist cell. In a discrete meeting with the White House Chief of Staff Hubbard is finally informed of the Sheikh’s apprehension, which was carried out at General Devereaux’s personal initiative. Hubbard convinces Haddad that he needs his help, and Haddad returns to the FBI.
A multi-ethnic peace march demonstrates against the occupation of Brooklyn. As the march is getting under way Hubbard and Haddad arrive at the meeting place, but Bridger and Samir have already left. Samir reveals to Bridger that he constitutes the final cell while in another sense he says, “there will never be a last cell.” He straps a bomb to his body which he intends to detonate among the marchers. Hubbard and Haddad arrive in time to stop him from leaving, but Samir shoots Bridger in the stomach as she struggles to stop him. Hubbard kills Samir, but despite their best efforts he and Haddad can only watch as Bridger succumbs to her wounds after managing to recite certain lines of the second half of The Lord’s Prayer and concluding with “Insha’Allah” – the Arabic phrase “God Willing.” Hubbard, Haddad, and other FBI agents raid Devereaux’s headquarters to arrest him for the torture and murder of Husseini, as well as his role in kidnapping the Sheikh in violation of the Logan Act. Devereaux insists that under the War Powers Resolution the authority vested in him by the president supersedes that of the court which issued the arrest warrant. He then commands his soldiers to aim their guns at the agents, resulting in a tense standoff. Hubbard reminds Devereaux that the civil liberties and human rights which he took from Husseini are what all his predecessors have fought and died for. Devereaux finally submits and is arrested. Martial law ends, and the detainees, including Haddad’s son, are freed.MV5BZGE4NDIzYzEtZjIwZi00ZDk5LWFiMDQtOGU1YjhkODNhYmExXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_
Highly recommended, at least if you want more than just action and drama and enjoy thought-provoking stories.

REVIEW: JONAH HEX

 

Image result for JONAH HEX UK DVD
CAST
Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad)
John Malkovich (Red)
Megan Fox (Jennifers Body)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Will Arnett (The Lego Movie)
John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom)
Tom Wopat (Django Unchained(
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games)
Julia Jones (Twilight: Eclipse)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Seth Gabel (Arrow)
Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbender in Jonah Hex (2010)
During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) served as a Confederate cavalryman until his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), a general for the Confederates who is obsessed with the fall of the Union, ordered him to burn down a hospital. Hex refused, and was forced to kill his best friend, Turnbull’s son Jeb. After the war, a vengeful Turnbull and his right-hand man, Burke (Michael Fassbender), a psychopathic sadist, tie up Hex and force him to watch as his house is burned down with his wife and son inside. Turnbull then brands Hex’s face with his initials, “QT”, and leaves him to die of thirst or exposure. Days later, American Indians find Jonah and revive him with their mystical powers. While they did manage to bring Jonah back from the dead, it is stated that they couldn’t bring “all of him back”. As a result, Jonah acquired the ability to, as long as he maintains physical contact with the corpse, temporarily resurrect and communicate with the dead; the corpse physically and mentally brought back to physical condition prior to death (apparently, only Jonah sees them restored like that. To everyone else, they continue to seem decayed and lifeless). It is also explained that the fresher the dead, the quicker that body begins to burn up as they are being touched. Once contact is broken, the corpse instantaneously reverts to its former, lifelesscondition. When Turnbull apparently dies in a hotel fire, Hex satisfies his hunger for vengeance by turning to bounty hunting.
Josh Brolin and Megan Fox in Jonah Hex (2010)In 1876, Hex rides into the town of Stunk Crick with four dead outlaws and demands his bounty, only to realize that the mayor and sheriff have no intention of paying, intending instead to kill Hex for his own bounty. Hex instead kills them and several sheriff’s deputies, collects his bounty from the dead mayor’s pockets, and leaves. In another part of the country, Turnbull, alive and well, orchestrates the hijacking of a train carrying components of a classified weapon, slaughtering its military guards and civilian passengers alike. When informed of the theft, President Grant (Aidan Quinn) surmises that Turnbull is planning a terrorist attack for July 4, during the celebration of the American centennial. Grant instructs Army Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) to find Hex and hire him to stop Turnbull. Jonah goes to a brothel and spends the night with Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute attracted to the disfigured man for more than just professional reasons. As Jonah prepares to leave the next morning, Grass’ men burst in and tell Jonah that Turnbull is still alive. They show him a captured thug from the train hijacking who told them Turnbull is headed northwest, before dying during interrogation. But Jonah briefly resurrects the man and learns that he has no knowledge of Turnbull’s whereabouts; the best he can do is tell who recruited him, ex-Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), who is running an illegal deathmatch pavilion in South Carolina, to the southeast.
With the help of a corrupt Washington aristocrat, Adleman Lusk (Wes Bentley), Turnbull tracks down and steals the remaining components of the weapon he is seeking. When Hex confronts Slocum in South Carolina, Slocum refuses to talk, sarcastically telling Hex to ask Turnbull’s dead son, Jeb, where his father is. Jonah says that is a good idea, then overpowers Slocum’s men and throws Slocum himself into the ring, to be killed by his own fighters. After setting fire to the ring, he frees a dog being tormented by Slocum’s handlers, which starts to follow him around. In a cemetery in Gettysburg, Jonah digs up and resurrects Jeb Turnbull (an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Jonah apologizes for killing Jeb, and says that his father has to be stopped before he murders more people. Jeb reveals that his father is at Fort Resurrection, and then returns to the afterlife.
After entering the fort, Hex sees plans for the “superweapon” that Turnbull has stolen and assembled. In another part of the fort, Turnbull explains to Burke that the weapon was designed by Eli Whitney for the U.S. military, but they refrained from building it after realizing it was simply too powerful to ever consider using. Jonah confronts Turnbull, killing several of his men, but Turnbull escapes and Hex receives a near-fatal wounding from Burke, but is able to escape. He collapses in a field, hovering near death for several days. Turnbull, anticipating that Hex will return, sends Burke to bring him “something Hex loves.” Burke kidnaps Lilah from the brothel. Turnbull test-fires the “superweapon” on a small town in Georgia, which is leveled to the ground, killing hundreds of civilians. When President Grant receives the news, his aide reports that they have no idea where in the country Turnbull will strike, and that they do not have enough military manpower to guard every centennial celebration. Hex is found by his Native American allies, who perform a ceremony that heals him. Back on his feet, he relays a message to Lt. Grass that Turnbull plans to attack Washington, D.C., then rides to Independence Harbor alone to stop him.
Josh Brolin in Jonah Hex (2010)
When Jonah attempts to infiltrate the harbor where Turnbull’s ironclad warship is anchored, Burke spots him and attacks him. Hex overpowers and kills him, then uses his powers to bring Burke back from the dead, just so Hex can incinerate his body completely. Jonah prepares to shoot Turnbull but Turnbull holds Lilah at gunpoint and forces Jonah to surrender. Turnbull chains Jonah and Lilah in the hold of his ship and tells Jonah that he wants him to watch as the Union is destroyed. The ship leaves harbor and steams toward Washington, D.C. A monitor commanded by Lt. Grass intercepts Turnbull, but is quickly destroyed with the weapon, which has been mounted on the bow.
In the hold, Lilah picks her handcuffs and frees herself and Jonah. She holds off the guards with two pistols while Jonah rushes up to the deck to stop Turnbull. Turnbull gains the upper hand and orders the weapon to fire. The weapon blankets Washington with a volley of delay-action bomb shells, and Turnbull gives the order for the trigger shell to be launched. But Hex and Turnbull’s fight takes them down into the engine room, where Hex throws his tomahawk into the weapon’s belt feeder, trapping the trigger shell. He then brutally beats Turnbull and traps his neck in a gear, before saving Lilah. The pair jump into the water just as the trigger shell ignites in the engine room, killing Turnbull and all his men. The next day, President Grant rewards Jonah with a large sum of money, a full pardon, and offers him a job as Sheriff of the entire United States. Jonah declines, but assures the president that if they need him, they’ll be able to find him. Lilah is waiting for him outside the White House, and they leave the city together. In the last scene, Jonah visits Jeb’s grave to apologize for having to kill his father, then rides out of the cemetery with his dog.
Josh Brolin in Jonah Hex (2010)
This is another example of a fun movie that doesn’t deserve anything like it’s poor reputation would suggest

REVIEW: DON’T SAY A WORD

 

CAST
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Brittany Murphy (The Prophecy 2)
Skye McCole Bartusiak (Boogeyman)
Guy Torry (Runaway Jury)
Jennifer Esposito (Summert of Sam)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Lance Reddick (Fringe)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Oliver Platt (2012)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
In 1991, a gang of thieves steal a rare $10-million gem, but, in the process, two of the gang double-cross their leader, Patrick Koster (Sean Bean) and take off with the precious stone. Ten years later, on the day before Thanksgiving, prominent private practice Manhattan child psychiatrist, Dr. Nathan R. Conrad (Michael Douglas), is invited by his friend and former colleague, Dr. Louis Sachs (Oliver Platt), to examine a disturbed young lady named Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy) at the state sanatorium. Having been released from prison on November 4, Patrick and the remaining gang members break into an apartment which overlooks Nathan’s apartment, where he lives with his wife Aggie (Famke Janssen) and daughter Jessie (Skye McCole Bartusiak). That evening, Patrick kidnaps the psychiatrist’s daughter as a means of forcing him to acquire a six-digit number from Elisabeth’s memory.
As Nathan visits Elisabeth, she is reluctant at first, but he gains her trust later—especially when he reveals that his daughter has been kidnapped and will be killed if he doesn’t get the number they want. Dr. Sachs admits to Nathan that the gang who kidnapped Jessie also kidnapped his girlfriend to force him to acquire the number from Elisabeth. Sachs is then visited by Detective Sandra Cassidy (Jennifer Esposito) who reveals to him that his girlfriend has been found dead. Meanwhile, Aggie hears Jessie’s voice and realizes the kidnappers reside in the apartment nearby. The kidnappers send one of them to kill Aggie while the others escape with Jessie, but Aggie sets an ambush and kills him.
After Nathan takes Elisabeth out of the sanatorium, she remembers certain events regarding the gang. It is revealed that Elisabeth’s dad was a member of the gang that committed the robbery ten years prior and that he double-crossed them and took the stolen gem. However, other members of the gang later found him and ordered him to reveal where he had hidden the gem, subsequently pushing him in front of a subway train. The gang members were arrested immediately, and Elisabeth escaped with her doll in which the gem was hidden. She also remembers that the required number, 815508, is the number of her father’s grave at Hart Island and that her doll is placed beside him in the coffin. She explains that she had stowed away on a boat that was taking her father’s coffin for burial in Potter’s field on Hart Island, where the gravediggers put the doll, named Mischka, inside.
Nathan and Elisabeth steal a boat to reach Hart Island. The gang members track them down and demand that Nathan give them the number they want. Elisabeth reveals the number and Patrick orders his companion to exhume her father’s coffin. He finds the doll and the gem hidden inside it. He then decides to kill Nathan and Elisabeth, but Detective Cassidy arrives before he can shoot them. Patrick’s companion is shot by Cassidy, but Patrick manages to wound her. Taking advantage of the confusion, Nathan takes the gem from Patrick and throws it to a nearby excavation machine. Patrick goes to recover the gem, but Nathan triggers the mechanism which covers Patrick with earth, burying him alive. Nathan is then reunited with his wife and daughter, and it is implied that Elisabeth goes on to live with the Conrads.
Dont-Say-a-Word-free06-630x400
The late Brittany Murphy was such an amazing actress and fans of hers will love this

REVIEW: THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Brian Bloom (Vampirella)
Chris Cox (All Star Superman)
Jennifer Hale (The Rick)
Peter Jessop (Jla Adventures)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Eric Loomis (Shin Chan)
James C. Mathis III (Undercover Brother)
Colleen Villard (Duel Masters)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)

MV5BMTUxOTM4NzczNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA1MzY2MjE@._V1_

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST COICES

Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Drake Bell (The Reef 2)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and Teh X-men)
Alex Desert (The Flash 90s)
Vanessa Marshall (Duck Dodgers)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Elizabeth Daily (Valley Girl)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Crispin Freeman (Hellsing)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Cam Clarke (He-Man)
Lance Reddick (Lost)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold!)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)

MV5BMTU5NTUxOTkxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk0MzY2MjE@._V1_

Both Marvel and DC have to an astonishing degree started to pick up these last few years, with several well-appreciated shows that I really enjoy: Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Green Lantern TAS, and now this; The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It’s very rare indeed for a superhero cartoon of this magnitude to be  great from start-to-finish, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is, right from Episode 1 `Iron Man is Born’ to the finale `Avengers Assemble!’. There are literally no dud episodes whatsoever! The whole series is infused with tremendous intrigue, exceptional plotting and some of the tightest continuity I’ve ever seen in a TV series. The number of sub-plots and story-arcs that are juggled here is staggering, but the creative team handled it all with such precision. The coherency, intricacies and pacing is nothing short of exemplary overall. This isn’t just essential for kids; adult Marvel fans will get bags of satisfaction from watching this cartoon!MV5BMTgxOTA1Nzk3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk0MzY2MjE@._V1_So what exactly can folk expect? Well, as I said, the choicest pieces of Marvel history (be it in comics or on film) have been successfully adapted and utilized here. From how the Avengers banded together to life-changing events like the Civil War threat and the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion (adapted beautifully here!). Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man/Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Black Panther are all superbly established before `Assembling’ for the first time, members come-and-go, characters undergo changes, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and the Vision join the ranks, and all-manner of superb guests join the party, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four and even those Guardians of the Galaxy!

And on the villains-front, you can be subjected to a cracking-bunch of dastardly rogues, such as Loki, the Red Skull, Hydra, A.I.M., Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and (of course!) chief arch-nemesis Ultron. And it’s not all just for window-dressing. The depictions of all these characters (hero, villain and otherwise) and their worlds is just pure gold. It’s perhaps the most faithful animated portrayal of the Marvel Universe.
Really, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could (and should) have gone on for more seasons. Instead, Marvel pulled the plug in favor of the replacement show Avengers Assemble. Thus in the last batch episodes, you DO get the feel that the writers were trying to wrap things up and give the show a grand swansong to make way for the next-cartoon-in-line. Admittedly, there are a few loose ends left over, but the series is mostly wrapped-up in winning style with a very acceptable conclusion. And in an age where too many shows are cancelled prematurely/end on a sour note, it makes that final moment of `Avengers Assemble!’ all the more of a triumph, just like the entire series itself.

REVIEW: GODZILLA (1998)

CAST

Matthew Broderick (Election)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Maria Pitillo (True Romance)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Michael Lerner (Elf)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl TV)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Ali Afshar (Power Rangers Turbo)
James Black (Kick-Ass 2)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Ken Lerner (Robocop 2)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)

MV5BYzVjY2QyZjktMWQ5NS00OTZlLTk1NGQtY2Y0YmJiMWUxNjY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc5NjM0NA@@._V1_Roland Emmerich specializes in movies that are practically critic proof. He populates his films with amazing spectacle, blockbusters packed with explosions, disasters, and well known landmarks destroyed in various ridiculous ways — exactly what people want to see when they desire entertainment that won’t spoil the taste of their movie theater popcorn with intellectually challenging issues or drama. Emmerich therefore makes sure to keep things simple with his films, which means a sacrifice of character development and depth, logic, and general believability. Emmerich’s 1998 remake of Godzilla is no exception to the rule. While there’s a definite sense of grandeur and epic destruction, it is like a paper-mache pinata. When you hit it hard enough with a bat, there is certainly some disposable candy to be found. But what’s truly there is now a broken, empty hull that never really had any substance.MV5BNDI4M2RkZjgtZDhkZS00YzczLWFhYWUtNDhiMjY0MjAwMjEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc5NjM0NA@@._V1_

The plot manages to be simple and yet garbled. The US military recruits a humble Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientist, Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), to investigate some strange discoveries, namely a shipwreck with giant claw marks in the hull and equally giant footprints in the French Pacific. Before Niko figures out what’s really going on, a giant pregnant lizard starts attacking New York City. It lays eggs in Madison Square Garden and smashes up the skyline. There’s also some business with the French Secret Service, and Niko’s college sweetheart, but these subplots are thin and underdeveloped. The focus of the movie is really about a giant lizard destroying NYC.  What Emmerich gets right is the spectacle. While nothing on the scale of global destruction of his earlier Independance Day, he again shows that he knows how to deliver shock and awe in an entertaining way. The sequence where Godzilla chases a taxi through the streets of New York, and the taxi (defying all reason) desperately manages to evade the giant lizard is just one of many that simply work on a visual and visceral level. The action keeps a swift pace punctuated with destruction, distracting your brain with explosions and the like so you don’t have time to think about any flaws in logic that might come up. You can’t really knock the effects and the action sequences, even if the CGI of Godzilla seems a little clunky and obvious by modern standards. The reason Emmerich manages to keep getting audiences to come see his films is that he delivers pure eye candy, the kind that appeals to a mass audience.This would work just fine and dandy if Emmerich kept the pace plowing forward without pausing. Sadly, he takes the time to try and explain things. The instant the pace slows down and we return to the characters, we can’t help but notice that they’re cardboard cutouts, shambling around New York City having conversations that don’t sound anything like how real people talk. Every time we get into a slow sequence, there’s practically has a neon sign in the background flashing the word ‘Exposition’ just in case anyone was missing that fact. We are taken out of the action into these sequences that are utterly useless and draw attention to the weaknesses of Emmerich’s style. Lets face it, do any of us really care about the particulars of why Godzilla is smashing up New York? No. We just want him to carry on doing it, while we enjoy our buttery popcorn and big gulp sodas. Now, Emmerich does have a reason for this exposition. It’s a sad attempt to make us feel for this Godzilla creature. In many ways, he’s trying to set up this empathy, in that ‘the animal was just scared and doing what came natural, it didn’t want to hurt anyone’ sort of way. You see, Godzilla is rampaging New York just because he came to lay some eggs and make a nest. So it’s just Godzilla’s hermaphroditic mother bear rage, and who can’t empathize with that, right?

…Okay, yeah, it’s totally ridiculous and feels like the plot point was plucked straight from Jurassic Park. The entire effort to make Godzilla empathetic while at the same time more beastly and unintelligent than the old Toho version simply doesn’t work. Godzilla in this movie is a completely different creature than the familiar dinosaur of the Toho incarnation. Patrick Tatopoulos’ design is much more lizard-like, and is nominally more realistic looking (if giant monstrous lizards can be realistic at all). The difficulty here is that the beast is almost too based in reality. It’s just a giant grey lizard, with little true character or feeling of intelligence. When we get flooded by a ton of raptor-like baby-zillas, it’s again feels like an attempt to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park. This Godzilla, often mockingly labelled ‘Notzilla’, is so bland and characterless that we miss the joy of watching a Godzilla movie.  Emmerich’s movie gives us a generic monster with the name Godzilla slapped on, and it really isn’t worthy of the name.The human characters fare no better than the title character. You can easily sum up all of them in a single sentence. Niko Tatopoulos is the goodnatured scientist who’s still hung-up on his college sweetheart. Victor Palotti (Hank Azaria) is a snarky Brooklyn-born camera man. They get little backstory, and in most cases none. You simply take them at their face value, stereotypes that are tired yet familiar. If you form any sort of attachment to these characters, its for reasons external to the movie. Maybe you really love Ferris Bueller, and that will help you be attached to Niko. Personally, I’m a fan of Jean Reno, so I really only cared about his character solely on that basis. This is utterly ridiculous for a film, that we form no sort of real attachment. We have no reason to actually care if Godzilla actually murders them all. In fact, given how obnoxious some of the characters are, you might actually hope Godzilla wins. The most ridiculous of the characters is actually the mayor of New York. This is not merely a cardboard-depth character. It is a wafer-thin caricature of famous film critic Roger Ebert. Emmerich’s earlier films had been rightly blasted by the man, so Emmerich takes revenge in a childish and immature way. He places Ebert into the film as an inept, sleazy, sugar-guzzling political opportunist. Mayor Ebert is constantly making decisions for his own sake, not the good of the city. He’s probably the least sympathetic character in the whole film, and it just feels like a stupid joke gone too far. It detracts from the film immensely.

I also have to make note of something that is of no fault of the filmmakers. Godzilla was released in 1998, three years before the 9/11 tragedy. Every time you see NYC skyline, you can’t help but stare at the World Trade Center. The film even has a terribly creepy line from Harry Shearer’s reporter character, talking about how the initial devastation from Godzilla is “worst since the World Trade Center bombing.” Obviously, this is in reference to the 1993 bombing, but now it serves as a terrible reminder of the more recent tragedy. When the helicopters blow up the Chrysler building, it hits the viewer in a terrible and unsettling way, and a dreadful unease takes you out of the movie.
1-godzilla-1998-1438781993Emmerich brings nothing new to the giant monster table other than a large budget, creating something that is pure edifice and no real substance. His Godzilla is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing — which is really not too much of a problem for the undiscerning movie goer. Going back to the earlier analogy, there’s nothing wrong with a pinata full of candy. You just have to ignore the sad, broken hull that remains afterward. So either you can shut off your brain and enjoy this bastard child of Emmerich’s making, or you don’t bother and watch something like Cloverfield instead.