Godzilla

Warner Brothers

Rated PG-13 for intense violence and scenes off destruction

Legendary Sea Monster Resurfaces As Anthropomorphic Ally Of Humanity

Godzilla made its debut in 1954 when the mythical, man-eating monster, inadvertently created by an atomic blast, emerged from the Pacific Ocean to carve a path of death and destruction acrossJapan, much to the chagrin of the country’s overmatched military. A couple of years later, Raymond Burr narrated a documentary-style, English-language remake which was basically a dubbed version of the original with his lines spliced in.

Despite relying for decades on terribly-stilted scripts and a guy in a rubber suit towering over a scale model of a toy-sized Tokyo, the B-movie franchise has remained popular enough to spawn 30-something sequels and counting. This relatively-upscale reboot of the series, however, abandons the campy dialogue and cheesy trick photography in favor of an emotionally-engaging plot as well as state-of-the-art special f/x.

Furthermore, while the 2014 edition Godzilla still looks like a fire-breathing, mutated iguana, he behaves more like a benign, anthropomorphic ally of humanity than its evil adversary. The villains, here, are a couple of nuclear waste-ingesting MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) that are not only threatening to level San Francisco but are poised to unleash a litter of their equally-hostile offspring.

In case you’re wondering, there’s plenty of precedent for Godzilla’s squaring-off against fellow behemoths. Consider such classic showdowns as King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) and Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), to name a few.

Although, this one’s finale is well worth the wait, it sure takes its sweet time getting around to that spectacular battle royal. In fact, we don’t even get a peek at Godzilla during the film’s first hour, which is instead devoted to developing characters and filling in the back story.

The picture was directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters) who assembled a surprisingly-sophisticated ensemble for an action-oriented, summer blockbuster. The cast includes Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche (for The English Patient), and nominees David Strathairn (for Good Night, and Good Luck), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai).

The adventure revolves around the Brody family whose plight provides the audience with the incentive to invest emotionally in the outcome. Widowed patriarch Joe (Cranston) is driven to learn the truth behind the catastrophe at a Japanese nuclear power plant that claimed his late wife’s (Binoche) life 15 years earlier. Their son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Navy explosives disposal expert, agrees to accompany his dad to the Orient, leaving behind a worried wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son (Carson Bolde) behind inSan Francisco.

Of course, all hell eventually breaks loose back home when anthropomorphic Godzilla selflessly rises to the occasion in defense of the city. Will the MUTOs meet their match? Will the separated Brodys manage to survive the apocalyptic mayhem for a tearful reunion?

A surprisingly haunting and panoramic picture exploring universal themes like loss and yearning, yet with all the fixins for first-rate action entertainment. Hey, why didn’t they make monster movies like this when I was a kid?

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 123 minutes

 

 

Breastmilk

Cavu Pictures

Unrated

Female Empowerment Documentary Extols The Benefits Of Nursing

Precious few mothers inAmericafollow the World Health Organization’s recommendation that newborns be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. Why the rush to formula, when nursing is not only natural and healthier, but cheaper and fosters the baby-mom bond?

Unfortunately, we live in a culture which discourages women from breastfeeding at every turn, starting soon after birth where infants are often introduced to the bottle right in the hospital. After all, formulas are a billion-dollar business, and it is in a manufacturer’s financial interest to wean a little one off mommy’s nipple, and the sooner the better.

That’s why most mothers are provided a starter kit of bottles and formula upon being discharged. Even those exhibiting an interest in breastfeeding are pressured by their doctors to at least purchase a $300 pump, the subtle suggestion being that they might not be able to produce enough milk on their own.

Truth be told, lactation is an uncomplicated bodily function which rarely needs any assistance. But we live in a culture where corporate interests and Puritanical values have conspired to shame females away from following their instincts. Yes, it may be legal to breastfeed in public, yet so many moms feel guilty anyway about exercising their right to do so.

Directed by Dana Ben-Ari, Breastmilk is a most enlightening documentary which extols a variety of nursing’s benefits, ostensibly with the goal of mainstreaming what sadly remains taboo in so many social circles. The film’s primary focus is the daily regimen of about 10 breastfeeding families, though it also features interviews with a few of the age-old practice’s more eloquent, academic advocates.

An empowering reminder of a woman’s body’s remarkable ability to provide sustenance in abundance.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 91 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening May 23, 2014

 

Blended (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and crude humor) Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite for their third romantic comedy (after The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates), this go-round as a widower and divorcee who continue seeing each other despite a disastrous blind date. With Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Dan Patrick and Shaquille O’Neal.

 

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (PG-13 for nudity, profanity, suggestive material and intense violence) Latest installment of the Marvel Comics franchise finds a confederacy of mutants traveling back in time to join forces with their younger selves in order to change the past to preserve the future. Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence,HalleBerry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender.

 

The Angriest Man In Brooklyn (R for sexuality and pervasive profanity) Robin Williams plays the title character in this remake of The 92 Minutes Of Mr. Baum, an Israeli dramedy about an obnoxious jerk who tries to make amends with everyone he’s ever offended after being informed by his doctor (Mila Kunis) that he only has an hour and a half left to live. With Melissa Leo, James Earl Jones and Peter Dinklage.

 

Cold In July (Unrated) Crime thriller, set in East Texas in the ’80s, about a family man (Michael C. Hall) worried about the arrival in town of the revenge-minded father (Sam Shepard) of the burglar he shot to death during a home invasion. With Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw and Wyatt Russell.

 

The Dance Of Reality (Unrated) Auto-biopic written, produced and directed by Renaissance Man Alejandro Jodorowsky, revisiting his own childhood in Chile, and featuring Jeremias Herskovits as his boyhood self. Co-starring Brontis Jodorowsky, Adan Jodorowsky and Axel Jodorowsky, courtesy of nepotism-inspired casting. (In Spanish with subtitles)

 

Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia (Unrated) Reverential retrospective about Gore Vidal (1925-2012), featuring archival footage of the best-selling novelist, political essayist and gay gadfly bemoaning the triumph of conservatism and corporations over liberalism and humanistic values.

 

Grand Depart (Unrated) Sibling rivalry drama about two brothers (Jeremie Elkaim and Pio Marmai) whose lives are thrown into turmoil by their father’s declining health (Eddy Mitchell). With Chantal Lauby, Zoe Felix and Benjamin Rolland. (In French with subtitles)

 

Korengal (Unrated) Sequel to the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, directed by Sebastian Junger (A Perfect Storm), serves up another slice of the War in Afghanistan from the point of view of a decimated platoon of American soldiers stationed in a very vulnerable valley surrounded by Taliban fighters on a suicide mission.

 

Lila, Lila (Unrated) Screen adaptation of the Martin Suter novel of the same name about a waiter (Daniel Bruhl) desperate to impress a customer (Hannah Herzsprung) he wants to date who publishes a found manuscript under his name only to find himself hounded by the true author (Henry Hubchen) when the book becomes a runaway best-seller. With Kirsten Block, Peter Schneider and Henriette Muller. (In German with subtitles)

 

The Love Punch (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and crude humor) Revenge comedy about a divorced couple (Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan) who grudgingly join forces to recover their savings from the shady businessman (Laurent Lafitte) who embezzled the entire contents of their retirement account. With Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie and Tuppence Middleton.

 

Words And Pictures (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, mature themes and nude sketches) Romantic dramedy about a prep school’s English teacher (Clive Owen) and new art instructor (Juliette Binoche) who date while debating the value of their respective disciplines. With Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman and Keegan Connor Tracy.

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