Godzilla (2014)

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A lot of people absolutely hated the 1998 Hollywood version of Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick, Hank Azaria and Jean Reno. I must be in the minority, because I actually didn’t think it was all that terrible. Well, here are some 16 years later and Hollywood is once again revisiting one of Japan’s most beloved icons. This time around, instead of getting Ferris Bueller and the many voices of Springfield’s residents, we get Walter White and Kick-Ass. Go figure.

The good and bad news here, depending on how you look at it, is that they’re not exactly trying to reinvent the wheel. There’s still a giant beast that is apparently born out of and feeds off of radiation. There are still people running away from said prehistoric-looking beast as the monster proceeds to destroy just about everything in sight. And yes, the misguided military is still in there trying to fight this thing. If it were not for the lack of the Jaeger mech suits, you’d swear this was another Pacific Rim movie.

The thing is that we wanted to see a monster movie with all sorts of epic monstrous destruction, but this take on Godzilla almost focuses too much on the human element of the tale and we’re still left with a film that is somehow lacking a soul. I find that I really didn’t care about the couple played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Sure, the fleeting battle between Godzilla and his primary foe (trying to avoid spoilers here) can be entertaining, but there needed to be more of it and less of Ken Watanabe’s unscientific science. And that’s a shame, because the trailers sure made this remake look epic.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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Whether you like Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield as the mild-mannered Peter Parker is a matter of personal preference. I thought the reboot in the first Amazing Spider-man movie did a good job of presenting the origin story to us (again) and now the story digs a little further into not only the tale of Peter Parker, but also how it all ties in together with his father, Oscorp and a radioactive spider. There was potential.

But I almost feel like the potential was woefully squandered in this second outing, mostly because there are far too many moments in this movie that left me scratching my head. Jamie Foxx is perfectly fine as Electro, I suppose, but why is that when he seemingly converts into a being of pure energy, he still re-materializes with a pair of shorts on? I guess they didn’t want to go full Dr. Manhattan on us. And why is that the deadly disease afflicting Norman Osborn doesn’t become critical until his later years, but Harry Osborn is apparently only given days to live when he’s still a youth? And since when did Felicia start working for Oscorp too?

If you’re willing to cast aside all of these curiosities, if you’re willing to abandon any semblance of a logical story, then you’ll still find some enjoyment in the “amazing” action sequences… even if they happen to be filled with all sorts of happy coincidences too. At least these characters seem to have some soul to them.

Syriana (2005)

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George Clooney. Christopher Plummer. Matt Damon. Amanda Peet. A Middle Eastern setting with a strong political agenda. Syriana has all the makings of a film that would be hugely popular among the Hollywood elite.

For me, unfortunately, the 128-minute movie just felt long and boring. We get a series of inter-tangled storylines that involve rising oil magnates, the CIA, and a group of suddenly unmployed migrant workers that form what appears to be a terrorist group. We get the strained relationship between China and America, intermingled with business and politics. As the tagline goes, “everything is connected,” but it feels like we are barely brushing the surface of any one narrative. Worse yet, I didn’t feel all that entertained nor did I gain any new insights into the politics of oil.

Don’t get me wrong. The acting here is definitely first rate and both Damon and Clooney bring a lot to the table, but I felt so lost in the intricately complex plot and it was not a positive, disorienting experience. There is no natural sense of progression, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe Syriana is trying to illustrate just how complicated these “oil problems” can be.