REVIEW: DAYBREAK – SEASON 1

Colin Ford in Daybreak (2019)

Starring

Colin Ford (Push)
Alyvia Alyn Lind (Revenge)
Sophie Simnett (The Lodge)
Austin Crute (Booksmart)
Cody Kearsley (Riverdale)
Jeanté Godlock (Sell Out)
Gregory Kasyan (War Dogs)
Krysta Rodriguez (Bakery in Brooklyn)
Matthew Broderick (Election)

Matthew Broderick and Sophie Simnett in Daybreak (2019)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Chelsea Zhang (Titans)
Andrew Fox (The Eight House)
Zoe Biggers (Prism)
Charlotte Benesch (Greanleaf)
Virginia Asbury (Cents)
Jade Payton (Izombie)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Gifted)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Joe manganiello (Justice League
Mather Zickel (Bones)

Colin Ford, Austin Crute, and Alyvia Alyn Lind in Daybreak (2019)While so many producers and networks are preoccupied with creating the next Walking Dead or Stranger Things, Netflix has looked back further, specifically to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for its new series Daybreak. That’s not to say the post-apocalyptic comedy-drama is in any way a copycat — while there are “ghoulies,” you won’t find a single vampire — but it is a worthy successor to the cult favorite in terms of its wry self-awareness and exploration of the high school experience through a supernatural/sci-fi lens.Cody Kearsley and Jeanté Godlock in Daybreak (2019)Loosely based on the series of graphic novels by Brian Ralph, Daybreak is set in Glendale, California, in the months after a nuclear apocalypse reduced most adults to “goo,” and turned those that remained into mindless, zombie-like ghoulies, sentenced to endlessly repeat the last thing they said before the attack, no matter how banal (“There’s a sale at Lululemon”). That leaves the teens and children to fight for survival in a world that’s part Road Warrior, part Lord of the Flies, part Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with heaping helpings of irony and dark humor.Krysta Rodriguez in Daybreak (2019)Colin Ford (Supernatural, Under the Dome) stars as Josh Wheeler, a 17-year-old transfer student from Canada who finds that his outsider status serves him well in the End Times. He navigates the territories staked out by high-school cliques turned tribes (The Jocks, The 4-H Club, Disciples of Kardashia, and so on), while stockpiling supplies and searching for Sam Dean (Sophie Simnett), the love of his life who was separated him the night of the attack.Daybreak (2019)Like a post-apocalyptic Malcolm in the Middle, Josh routinely breaks the fourth wall in the first two episodes to serve as the audience’s guide to this bizarre, new world, in which two-headed crows scrounge for morsels, doomed contestants compete in “American Ninja Idol” for the entertainment of the leader of The Jocks, and the bogeyman-like Baron Triumph prowls the streets on a motorcycle, capturing kids to eat. Despite Josh’s determination to remain a loner, he falls in with Angelica (​Alyvia Alyn Lind​), a precocious girl with a flame-thrower and malleable morals, and Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), a former jock turned pacifistic samurai seeking redemption. Together, they form a compelling central cast that is, luckily, more than mere archetypes of young-adult drama. (Likewise, Matthew Broderick as the “woke” Principal Burr and Krysta Rodriguez as the beleaguered Ms. Crumble prove to be more than cookie-cutter authority figures.)Jade Payton in Daybreak (2019)Although Ford is joined by other narrators in subsequent episodes, he bears the weight of the world-building, and carries it well, addressing viewers as if they’re participants in this offbeat adventure. If Ford weren’t so charming, and Josh weren’t such goofy, endearing everyman (everykid?) Daybreak would likely stumble out of the gate. However, the series’ success doesn’t owe all to him; when the narration, and the focus, shifts to other characters, Daybreak still works — and works well. While Daybreak doesn’t blaze any new trails, in either teen comedy-drama or post-apocalyptic fiction, it has a great deal of fun exploring the tropes of both. The wasteland of Glendale is high school writ large, with the adolescent pecking order weathering the nuclear attack (and even thriving in its aftermath), and teens seeking a place among the cliques, not merely for social acceptance but for their survival. It’s no coincidence that a shopping mall, kept pristine even as society crumbles, emerges as an oasis for the outcasts.47e9a30a87171a0193c6ca7ae9218bd5119bad1eWith the ghoulies, Daybreak introduces a zombie-like menace that wisely sidesteps the familiar threat of The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later and the like. Sure, they’re revenants, of sorts, but the repetition of their frequently silly final words (“How do you pronounce ‘La Croix’?”) goes a long way to diffuse any sense of dread. Angelica goes to great length to differentiate ghoulies from zombies, noting that while their bites may leave scars, they won’t transform their victims (a knowledge bomb that arrives a bit too late for Josh). But, as is so often the case in post-apocalyptic fiction, the real danger isn’t the monsters but the humans, whether they be The Jocks or the cannibalistic Baron Triumph.b1dc4-episode2bstill2b3Witty, self-aware and endlessly entertaining, Daybreak offers something for everyone: teen angst (and romance), samurai action, Mad Max-style car chases and, yes, metatextuality, all in one, enjoyable bundle. It’s a post-apocalyptic Buffy the Vampire Slayer for 2019, only, y’know, without vampires.

 

REVIEW: TRAINWRECK

CAST

Amy Schumer (Snatched)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Brie Larson (Kong: Skull Island)
Colin Quinn (Grown Ups 2)
John Cena (12 Rounds)
Vanessa Bayer (Office Christmas Party)
Mike Birbiglia (Cedar Rapids)
Ezra Miller (Suicide Squad)
Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange)
Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman In Black)
Marisa Tomei (The Guru)
Matthew Broderick (Election)
Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters)
Josh Segarra (Arrow)
Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn)
Randall Park (The Interview)
Ajay Mehta (Spider-Man)

Gordon Townsend (Colin Quinn) tells his two young daughters Amy (Devin Fabry) and Kim (Carla Oudin) that he and their mother are divorcing because monogamy is not realistic, repeating it like a mantra. Twenty-three years later, Amy (Amy Schumer) is a party girl who drinks too much and sleeps around while writing for a men’s magazine. She is in a casual relationship with a gay gym-addict named Steven (John Cena), who was attracted to her because he first thought she ‘looked like a dude’. Her cold-hearted English boss, Dianna (Tilda Swinton), assigns her to write an article about a sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader).
While Amy is interviewing Aaron, she receives a text from Kim (Brie Larson) insisting they move Gordon to a cheaper facility. Amy starts to hyperventilate, but Aaron calms her down and suggests they get food. Over dinner, he compliments her writing and she learns about his family. After some drinks, they go to his place and have sex together. Amy stays the night, which is a departure from her rule of never sleeping over with a man she’s had sex with.
The next day, Aaron calls to ask if they can see each other again. Amy panics and tells him they will talk about it at the interview. She and her friend Nikki decide she has to end it. Meanwhile, Aaron’s friend, LeBron James, is excited for him since Aaron has not dated anyone in six years. Amy goes to watch Aaron perform surgery to “Uptown Girl”, his favorite song. Afterwards, she tries to break things off. He insists they like each other and should date. Amy then gets a phone call that her dad had a fall. Aaron drives her to the home where he tends to her dad.
Aaron and Amy begin dating and fall for each other. Amy is worried she is going to mess up the relationship, but Kim tells her she is just doing what everyone else does. Gordon avoids taking his medication and dies. At his funeral, Aaron tells her, for the first time, that he loves her. She tells him that it was the wrong time for him to start saying that to her.
Aaron receives a prestigious award at a luncheon and brings Amy. While making his speech, Amy gets a call from her boss Dianna, who threatens to fire her if she does not answer. She chooses to take the call and leaves during his speech. Afterwards, Aaron is upset and they start arguing. They return to her apartment, but Aaron thinks they should not go to bed angry, so Amy rants all night. The next day Aaron tells Amy that they need to take a break. Hurt, Amy reacts by telling him that it is fine.
Amy goes out drinking with her co-workers, including an intern, who invites her back to his place; their bizarre sexual encounter is interrupted when his mom enters and reveals that he is only 16. The next day, Dianna fires Amy for the incident. Aaron is moping in his apartment until LeBron calls, claiming he has been injured. Aaron rushes over to find an intervention for him consisting of LeBron, Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert, and Marv Albert. They tell him he has always been afraid of opening up and needs to make things right with Amy, but Aaron insists things with Amy are over.
Amy visits Kim and tells her everything that has happened; Kim tells her that it’s time to change. Amy clears out all the alcohol from her apartment. She takes her Aaron story to Vanity Fair, where it ends up getting published, and sends it to Aaron. He attends a game and after, Aaron is called back to the court, where the Knicks City Dancers perform with Amy front and center. She tells him she wants to make their relationship work. They confess their love for each other and kiss.This movie has the kind of very fast humor I do like, this movie has terrific performances not only from Amy Schumer and Bill Hader but from the entire cas.  I recommend this I very much to those who like to laugh.

REVIEW: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Starring

Casey Affleck (Interstellar)
Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird)
Michelle Williams (Venom)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Gretchen Mol (The Shape of Things)
C.J. Wilson (The Intern)
Tate Donovan (Argo)
Kara Hayward (Fan Girl)
Anna Baryshnikov (The Kindergarten Teacher)
Heather Burns (Bored To Death)
Erica McDermott (Joy)
Matthew Broderick (Election)

Casey Affleck and Stephen McKinley Henderson in Manchester by the Sea (2016)The story takes place in the present, while including flashbacks to relevant events. The protagonist is Lee Chandler, a janitor and handyman, who lives a solitary life in a basement apartment in Quincy, Massachusetts. The movie opens with scenes of him performing tasks for tenants of the apartment complex where he works. His interaction with them is minimal. After being reprimanded by his boss for swearing at an irritated tenant, he gets into a drunken bar fight with two businessmen, believing they were staring at him.Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Lee receives word that his brother Joe has suffered a cardiac arrest, but he dies before Lee can get to the hospital. Lee insists on being the one to tell Joe’s teenage son, Patrick, about his father’s death. While making funeral arrangements, they learn that Joe’s body cannot be buried until spring when the ground thaws. Lee opts to remain in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts until the delayed burial.Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Lee meets with his brother’s attorney and is shocked to discover that his brother named him Patrick’s legal guardian. During the scene, the viewer is shown — through flashbacks — that Lee once lived in Manchester with his then-wife Randi and their three small children. His negligence while intoxicated led to a house fire that killed the children. No criminal charges were filed against him. However, after being questioned at the police station, Lee grabbed a gun from an officer’s holster and attempted suicide. In light of these events, Lee is reluctant to commit to the guardianship and unwilling to move back to Manchester, where the locals treat him as an outcast. He begins planning for Patrick to move to Boston with him. Patrick is deeply rooted in the Manchester community and strongly objects to the idea. Lee commits to staying only until the end of the school year.Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Over time, Patrick and Lee re-establish their bond, despite conflicts about Joe’s boat, Patrick’s girlfriends, and their future living arrangements. Through flashbacks, Patrick’s mother Elise is shown to have had substance abuse problems and abandoned the family, so Lee is opposed to Patrick reconnecting with her. Even so, Patrick emails Elise about Joe’s death, and she invites him to have lunch with her. She has committed to Christianity and sobriety with her fiancé, Jeffrey, but during an awkward meal with them, Patrick finds himself unable to connect with her. He is unsettled further when Jeffrey emails him, insisting on being an intermediary in any future communication between Patrick and his mother. Lee’s subsequent positive comments about Elise’s sobriety lead Patrick to believe his uncle is trying to get rid of him, assertions Lee denies. In response to this strain in their relationship, Lee takes steps to possibly extend his stay in Manchester, and begins to seek ways to spend more time with Patrick.Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea (2016)One day Lee runs into his ex-wife Randi, her newborn, Dylan, and her friend Rachel. After Rachel leaves to get the car, a sobbing Randi expresses remorse for her treatment of Lee during their divorce and asks him to have lunch. Lee deflects her apology, feeling that he does not deserve it. When she insists that they reconnect and pleads with him not to “just die,” he leaves before he can become emotional. Distraught, a drunk Lee picks a fight with strangers at a bar and is knocked out. He awakens in the living room of George (a family friend) and breaks down in tears. At home, Patrick shows his uncle deference after observing his battered state and seeing pictures of the deceased children in Lee’s bedroom.Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Lee arranges for George and his wife to adopt Patrick, so the teen can remain in Manchester while Lee gets a job in Boston. When Patrick asks Lee why staying is not an option, Lee admits that he “can’t beat it.” At this, Patrick cries and Lee comforts him. During a walk after Joe’s burial service, Lee tells Patrick that he is searching for a residence in Boston with an extra room so that Patrick can visit whenever he wants. In the final scene, Lee and Patrick go fishing on Joe’s refurbished boat that Patrick has inherited.MV5BZTg4Njc5ZTUtNGY2MS00OTc0LTg2OTEtMmNlY2EwMDYwMmUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzQ0NTgwMTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1553,1000_AL_Though Michelle Williams has a small role, she turns in one of her best performances. In a powerful confrontation with Lee, it is clear that she still loves him but has felt compelled to suppress it in order to bury the past and move on. Manchester by the Sea belongs to Casey Affleck, however, who turns in what is arguably the best performance of his career. The film does not have the sort of neat resolution that you may have come to expect but what it does have are real people whose lives you want to be a part of and you know that that world is not one that can only happen in the movies, but a real experience of life fully lived in all its pain and all its joy.

REVIEW: THE CABLE GUY

CAST

Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura)
Matthew Broderick (Election)
Leslie Mann (This is 40)
Jack Black (Gulliver’s Travels)
George Segal (2012)
Diane Baker (The Net)
Ben Stiller (Dodgeball)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Janeane Garofalo (The Truth About Cats and Dogs)
Andy Dick (Road Trip)
David Cross (Small Soldiers)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Joel Murray (Two and a Half Men)
Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
Cynthia LaMontagne (THat 70s Show)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Bob Odenkirk (Undone)
Kyle Gass (Elf)

After a failed marriage proposal to his girlfriend Robin Harris (Leslie Mann), Steven M. Kovacs (Matthew Broderick) moves into his own apartment after they agree to spend some time apart. Enthusiastic cable guy Ernie “Chip” Douglas (Jim Carrey), an eccentric man with a lisp, installs his cable. Taking advice from his friend Rick Lagados (Jack Black), Steven bribes Chip to give him free movie channels, to which Chip agrees. Before he leaves, Chip gets Steven to hang out with him the next day and makes him one of his “preferred customers”.
As promised, Chip arrives the next day, and he takes Steven to the satellite dish responsible for sending out television signals. Steven tells his problems with Robin to Chip, who advises him to admit his faults to Robin and invite her over to watch Sleepless in Seattle, which is running on HBO the next night. Steven takes Chip’s advice, and Robin agrees to watch the movie with him. The next day, Chip begins acting more suspiciously, “running into” Steven and his friends at the gym and leaving several messages on Steven’s answering machine. When Robin arrives to watch the movie, the cable is out, thanks to Chip, who intentionally sabotaged Steven’s cable when he didn’t call Chip back. Chip fixes the cable under the condition that they hang out again, to which Steven agrees.
 The next evening, Chip takes Steven to Medieval Times, where Chip arranges for them to battle in the arena, referencing the Star Trek episode “Amok Time”. Chip behaves aggressively, nearly killing Steven, who eventually bests him in combat. Afterwards, Chip congratulates Steven, who decides the experience was fun. When they arrive at Steven’s home, Chip reveals that he’s installed an expensive home theater system in his living room. Chip and Steven later host a party, complete with a karaoke sing-off. With Chip’s help, Steven sleeps with a woman named Heather. The next morning Chip reveals that Heather is a prostitute. Furious, Steven throws Chip out, but Chip assures Steven he will make things better.

Chip tracks down Robin, who is on a date with another man (Owen Wilson). When the man goes to the bathroom, Chip severely beats him and tells him to stay away from Robin. He later upgrades Robin’s cable, saying that it’s on Steven. Robin decides to get back together with Steven as a result. Steven tells Chip that they cannot be friends, which hurts Chip. Chip then begins a series of vengeful acts. He gets Steven arrested for possession of stolen property (the home theater system), although Steven is released on bail. During a dinner with his family and Robin, Steven is horrified to see Chip is in attendance as well. Steven tells him to leave, but Chip tells him to play along or he will show everyone a picture of Steven with the prostitute. The evening goes from bad to worse, with Steven punching Chip after the latter implies he slept with Robin. Steven is later fired from his job when Chip sends out a video of Steven insulting his boss to the entire office that was recorded on a hidden camera in his apartment.

After doing some investigating, Rick tells Steven that Chip has been fired from the cable company for stalking customers, and uses the names of television characters as aliases (with his current alias taken from My Three Sons). Chip calls Steven that night, telling him he’s paying Robin a visit. Steven tracks them down to the satellite dish, where Chip holds Robin hostage. After a physical altercation and a chase, Steven gets the upper hand and is able to save Robin. As the police arrive, Chip goes into a long speech on how he was raised by television and apologizes to Steven for being a bad friend. Chip then dives into the satellite dish, knocking out the television signal to the entire town, just as the verdict in a highly publicized case involving a famous child star is about to be revealed. Chip survives the fall, but injures his back. As Steven and Robin reunite, Steven forgives Chip and asks for his real name. Chip jokingly replies “Ricky Ricardo”. Chip is later taken to the hospital in a helicopter. When one of the paramedics addresses him as “buddy”, Chip asks the paramedic if he is truly his buddy, to which the paramedic replies “Yeah, sure you are”, causing Chip to smile deviously just before the credits roll.This film will either appeal to your sense of humour, or totally conflict with it, but rest assured, if you find it funny, you’ll find watching it a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so of your life.

 

REVIEW: THE LAST SHOT

CAST
Matthew Broderick (Election)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Toni Collette (Changing Lanes)
Tony Shalhoub (The Siege)
Calista Flockhart (Supergirl)
Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln)
Buck Henry (Get Smart)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers)
James Rebhorn (Homeland)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Jon Polito (The Crow)
John Prosky (True Blood)
Robert Axelrod (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Pat Morita (The KArate Kid)
Joan Cusack (working Girl)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
In the 19th century, residents of the small, isolated Pennsylvania village of Covington live in fear of nameless creatures in the surrounding woods and have constructed a large barrier of oil lanterns and watch towers that are constantly manned to keep watch. After the funeral of a seven-year-old boy, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) asks the village elders for permission to pass through the woods to get medical supplies from neighboring towns; however, his request is denied. Later, his mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver) admonishes him for wanting to visit the neighboring towns, which the villagers describe as wicked. The Elders also appear to have secrets of their own and keep physical mementos hidden in black boxes, the contents of which are reminders of the evil and tragedy they left behind when they left the towns. After Lucius makes a short venture into the woods, the creatures leave warnings in the form of splashes of red paint on all the villagers’ doors. Meanwhile, Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard)—the blind daughter of the chief Elder, Edward Walker (William Hurt)—informs Lucius that she has strong feelings for him, and he returns her affections. They arrange to be married, but Noah Percy (Adrien Brody), a young man with an apparent developmental and learning disability, stabs Lucius with a knife because he is in love with Ivy himself. Noah is locked in a room until a decision is made about his fate.
Edward goes against the wishes of the other Elders, agreeing to let Ivy pass through the forest and seek medicine for Lucius. Before she leaves, Edward explains that the creatures inhabiting the woods are actually members of their own community wearing costumes and have continued the legend of monsters in an effort to frighten and detract others from attempting to leave Covington. He also explains that the costumes are based upon tales of real creatures who once lived in the woods. Ivy and two young men (unaware of the Elders’ farce) are sent into the forest, but both protectors abandon Ivy almost immediately, believing the creatures will kill them but spare her out of pity. While traveling through the forest, one of the creatures suddenly attacks Ivy. She tricks it into falling into a deep hole to its death. However, the creature is actually Noah wearing one of the costumes found in the room where he had been locked away after stabbing Lucius.
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Ivy eventually finds her way to the far edge of the woods, where she encounters a high, ivy-covered wall. After she climbs over the wall, a park ranger named Kevin (Charlie Hofheimer) spots Ivy and is shocked to hear that she has come out of the woods. The woods are actually the Walker Wildlife Preserve, named for Ivy’s family, and it is actually the modern era instead of the 19th century as the villagers believe. Ivy asks for help and gives Kevin a list of medicines that she must acquire, also giving him a golden pocket watch as payment. During this time, it is revealed that the village was actually founded in the late 1970s. Ivy’s father—then a professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania—approached other people he met at a grief counseling clinic following the murder of his father and asked them to join him in creating a place where they would sustain themselves and be protected from any aspect of the outside world. When they agreed, Covington was built in the middle of a wildlife preserve purchased with Edward’s family fortune. The head park ranger, Jay (M. Night Shyamalan), tells Kevin that the Walker estate pays the government to keep the entire wildlife preserve a no-fly zone and also funds the ranger corps, who ensure no outside force disrupts the wildlife preserve. Kevin secretly retrieves medicine from his ranger station, and Ivy returns to the village with the supplies, unaware of the truth of the situation. During her absence, the Elders secretly open their black boxes, each containing mementos from their lives in the outside world, including items related to their past traumas. The Elders gather around Lucius’ bed when one of the townsfolk informs them that Ivy has returned, and that she killed one of the monsters. Edward points out to Noah’s grieving mother that his death will allow them to continue deceiving the rest of the villagers that there are creatures in the woods, and all the Elders take a vote to continue living in the village.
 The film proves to be a productive comedy – as in you’ll get plenty of chances to prove your laughing capabilities – and is also dubbed by a layer of “sensfullness”, meaning it’s a smart comedy.

 

REVIEW: ELECTION (1999)

CAST

Matthew Broderick (Godzilla)
Reese Witherspoon (This Means War)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Jessica Campbell (The Safety of Objects)
Mark Harelik (That 70s Show)
Phil Reeves (13Going on 30)
Molly Hagan (IZombie)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham)

Tracy (Reese Witherspoon) is an overachieving senior in suburban George Washington Carver High School (where the student body is all white). What Tracy wants, she gets, using a combination of single-minded hard work, bright smiles as phony as a television infomercial, eager volunteering and a ruthlessness that varies between chirpiness and squinted eyes.Image result for election (1999)Then one of Tracy’s teachers, Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), decides the world needs to be saved from Tracy. He talks one of the school’s popular football athletes to run against Tracy. From now on Jim has his hands full trying to sabotage Tracy’s relentless campaign, impregnate his wife, convince himself his next door neighbor, a recent divorcee, is really going to understand him if they can only check into a motel for a couple of hours…and deal with the consequences of everything he set in motion.https://i0.wp.com/cineplex.media.baselineresearch.com/images/78881/78881_full.jpgElection, written and directed by Alexander Payne, is one of the funniest, darkest satires of human behavior since Jonathan Swift recommended that the poor should simply sell their children to be eaten by the rich. There are a lot of teenagers in this movie, but it’s not just another teen-age movie. We’re looking at the ludicrous depths to which ambition and good intentions, when mixed with politics, can take us. If that seems ponderous, it’s about as ponderous as Tracy Flick’s mom writing compulsively to people like Connie Chung and Elizabeth Dole asking for advice.The script moves from the exaggerated to the outlandish with great style. The actors deliver the goods with deadpan sincerity and self-serving honesty. Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick hits the bull’s-eye with unnerving accuracy. She is so sincere in her insincerity, which is, in Tracy Flick’s own way, completely sincere, that Witherspoon makes us smile and shudder at the same time. As outstanding as she is, Matthew Broderick is the heart of the movie. Jim McAllister is part lech, part nebbish, but mostly good guy. It’s a funny, almost poignant performance. Payne’s script and Broderick’s acting give us a perfect ending that’s just as brittle, cool and amusing as the rest of the movie.

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.