Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Blockbusters: May Reviews

The Summer Blockbusters have arrived!!! Every month in Summer holds more excitement and hype that my movie reviews can't be contained in just one blog entry, so I've decided to give each month it's due with brief reviews of my favorites. Let's kick-off the Summer with May's releases: Enjoy!

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014)- Directed by Mark Webb, this squeal to 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man establishes the new franchise trilogy with Andrew Garfield as the new "Amazing" Spider-Man! This movie sees the return to the classic Spider-Man costume instead of the more "modern" costume in the last movie. As Peter Parker graduates High School, he is kindling his relationship with Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) while still trying to be a superhero, while he's haunted by the death of Gwen's father Captain Stacey (Denis Leary) at the hands (or claws) of The Lizard, who Peter promised to leave alone! This new movie introduces a new villain Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, as Max Dillon, a socially awkward and eccentric electrical engineer at OSCORP, who's obsessed with Spider-Man, after being saved by Spider-Man from a speeding armored truck, he later falls in a tank of electric eels and becomes Electro, able to absorb and project large amounts of (blue) electricity! Thinking Spider-Man either tricked him or forgot about him in his deranged mind he goes on a rampage sucking power from New York City. Meanwhile, Peter's childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns as his father Norman Osborn lays dying from a mysterious disease, and it just so happens that Harry is also afflicted with the disease that coincidentally Peter's father was working on a cure before he disappeared! As Peter and Harry both realize the only thing that can possibly cure Harry is Peter's spider-infected blood, Peter has to decide whether or not to risk his secret identity which may or may not save his friends life! With this movie we've started off the multiple villains angle way to early as we deal mostly with Electro throughout the movie we are introduced to new villains including the new Green Goblin and a few brief cameos (which I will not spoil) leading into the next movie. Overall Electro makes for a weak addition to the new Spider-Man franchise. While many fans including myself were disappointed with the Lizard in the last one, it seems the movies have begun to dig at the bottom of the barrel for Spider-Man villains, while Spider-Man has always been known for his colorful rogue's gallery, yet not too many of them could possibly carry an entire movie. That is why the next logical step would be to introduce many villains in the next movie, namely "The Sinister Six". While this seems promising for my fellow Spidey "fanboys" out there, it doesn't necessarily lend itself to a good movie. When is more villains, too many, when we introduce too many characters we become Batman & Robin (1997), lets not forget it hasn't been that long since the disaster that was Spider-Man 3 (2006).

GODZILLA (2014) - When news first came out of the new Godzilla movie, fans were both excited and skeptical, since the epic-failure of 1998's Godzilla directed by Roland Emmerich and the 2004 release of Godzilla: Final Wars, marking Godzilla's 50th Anniversary, it seemed that a new Godzilla would never be made. Through all the pre-production and production difficulties, it was finally announced that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. with rookie director Gareth Edwards (Monsters (2010) would bring Godzilla back from the depths. While the movie appears like a Godzilla reboot it actually draws upon previous Godzilla films and story-lines making it seem relevant to the long tradition including a reference to a discovery of a large creature in the Pacific Ocean in 1954 and the discovery of a colossal skeleton in a mine in the Philippines in 1999. While many Godzilla movies feature a seemingly unbeatable Kaiju monster, which no one can defeat except of course for Godzilla, who,  throughout his long 60 year history went from nature-avenging destructor to civilization-saving hero! The movie begins with tragedy at the Janjira nuclear plant in Japan where a supposed meltdown attributed to an earthquake is the cause of a area-wide quarantine. Plant supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) loses his wife in the disaster and feels guilty for sending her to his death. 15-years later, Joe is still trying to uncover the conspiracy of the disaster. After having been arrested for trespassing his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Navy EOD now living in San Francisco with his family, goes to Japan to bailout his father. There Joe and Ford attempt to return to Janjira and uncover the truth. As they are captured (again), we also meet Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who studied the skeleton in 1999 and reveals that the disaster was caused by an unknown creature designated MUTO, now hibernating but coincidentally is awakened and wreaks havoc on Hawaii. Suddenly Godzilla appears and battles the creature however we learn there is yet another creature in Nevada, which destroys Las Vegas. The showdown with two MUTOs and Godzilla occurs in San Francisco Bay and if you've seen at least a few of the 30 Godzilla movies over the years, you know what happens. The initial appearance of Godzilla is somewhat anti-climactic and it seems as though the focus of the film is more about the MUTOs than Godzilla? If the producers of the film had gone with tradition and made just "another" Godzilla film it wouldn't have held up to the hype. More fitting it should've been called "Godzilla VS. MUTO" (or vice versa) and not just simply Godzilla. In the end, it remains just another mediocre Godzilla movie with very little originality besides the redesign of the creature and being an American production. While it is fun and entertaining to finally see a new Godzilla movie after waiting a decade, it remains somewhat of a disappointment. In the words of a good friend of mine: "Only Japanese people should be allowed to make a Godzilla movie!" (Thanks!)

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014) - While the X-Men franchise has had it's ups (X2, First Class) and downs (X-Men 3, Origins: Wolverine) over the years, the franchise has finally come to it's ultimate apex with the original franchise along with the prequel franchise coming together in one explosive finale!  Director Bryan Singer returns to the franchise after abandoning it for Superman Returns (2006) and leaving us with Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) Thanks (NOT!) "Loosely" based on the 1981 story-line written by Chris Claremont with art by John Byrne, Days of Future Past takes place both in the Past, Present and Future of the X-Men cinematic universe. In the near future, the world is a much darker place, giant robotic Sentinels hunt-down and destroy the last remaining mutants as they make their last stand to ultimately change the past and thus remake their future. With new additions to their fighting force Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Storm (Halle Berry), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), led by Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) together again with Magneto (Ian McKellen) to fight a common enemy! The plan is to send Wolverine's mind (with the aide of Kitty's new and unexplained powers) back in time to 1973 to stop the assassination of Bolivar (Peter Dinklage) Trask, (a scientists who created the Sentinels) by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) aka Raven. Wolverine wakes up in the past and has to convince the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Beast (Nicholas Hoult) to help him stop the assassination. first they have to break young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of a highly secured prison under the Pentagon with the help of Quicksilver (Evan Peters). The fate of the past and future comes together in an epic battle for the ages! Some of the newer additions to the mutant menagerie in this movie (however brief) is Bishop (Omar Sy), Blink (BingBing Fan),  Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (BooBoo Stewart). The newest mutant to create controversy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is of course Quicksilver, while having a small part in this movie is a big part of X-Men history, but who will also be appearing in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron (also the end-credits stinger at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier) played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)! Although not as faithful to the comic books, Days of Future Past functions as a proverbial reset button to the errors of the franchise. With the convenience of time travel, it causes major effects on the story and characters in the franchise which will be revealed in the end. Overall it is an impressive and intense turning-point within the X-Men movies (which remain a property of 20th Century Fox!). Be sure to stay for the end-credits for what could quite possibly be THE most epic moment in X-Men movie history, equal to the Thanos reveal at the end of Avengers!