Tag Archives: Bryan Cranston

Review: Godzilla

Godzilla_Poster1“Godzilla” is a little light on fully realized human characters, but what does that matter when you’ve got a 350-foot monster with an astonishing amount of fight and resolve to root for?  

When a mine collapses in the Philippines, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins) come to check out what’s left behind and are shocked to find the radioactive remains of something inexplicably large. Well north in Japan, they’re feeling the effects of whatever rattled that mine, but only in the form of small tremors so Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) can’t get his colleagues at the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant to sound the alarms until its way too late. Fifteen years later, Joe is still obsessed with figuring out what leveled the plant while his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), does what he can to help him move on so he can finally leave the past behind and spend some time with his young grandson. However, Ford is forced to reconsider his father’s priorities when he comes face-to-face with the culprit Joe’s been chasing for years himself.

If you’ve seen “Monsters,” you know that Gareth Edwards knows how to make a monster movie, and on a minimal budget at that. Edwards undoubtedly had far more to work with with Warner Bros. backing his sophomore effort, but “Godzilla” still exhibits an exceptional attention to detail, suggesting Edwards rolled into this one with that same respect for stunning imagery, tangible performances and powerful story beats that he had when he was trying to do a lot, but with very little.

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Review: Argo

When the trailer for “Zero Dark Thirty” plays before a screening of “Argo,” you can’t help but to wonder if our society is crazy for having turned these devastating and/or historically significant events into sources of entertainment. However, as someone who wasn’t around during the Iran hostage crisis, the fact that I was moved enough by “Argo” to go home and Google until I had a thorough understanding of the situation goes to show that Ben Affleck did a better job than my history teachers ever could.

Centered on the true events of the Iran hostage crisis, “Argo” begins with the revolutionaries storming the U.S. embassy in Tehran. All of the embassy employees are taken hostage save for six who seek refuge at the Canadian ambassador’s home. The revolutionaries are unaware of the escape, but are slowly piecing together the paperwork the staff desperately shredded mere moments before the invasion, so it’s only a matter of time before they assemble the office roster including pictures of each and every employee.

Back in the U.S., the State Department works to figure out a way to get the six out safely and discreetly. Exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) proposes the idea of using a Canadian film as a cover. In an effort to make the endeavor as thorough as possible, Tony joins forces with make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to make the sci-fi film “Argo” a semi-reality.

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Review: Total Recall (2012)

Warning: Excessive use of lens flares may cause confusion, frustration, facial distortion, distraction from story, and tarnishing of what could have been impressive visual effects.

After being contaminated by the effects of nuclear warfare, the Earth is left with just two safe places to live, the United Federation of Britain and The Colony. Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a resident of The Colony and rides The Fall, a transportation system that takes commuters from The Colony, formerly Australia, through the Earth’s core to the UFB, to work on an assembly line constructing robots after which he hops back on The Fall and heads home to his loving wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale).

When Doug’s monotonous routine becomes too much, he decides it’s time to go to Rekall, a business that lets you chose the dream life you wish you could live and then implants the memories into your brain. Little does Doug know, his decision to assume the memories of a secret agent would flip a switch, sending countless police officers and robots after him led by Lori. Lucky for Doug, Melina (Jessica Biel) arrives just in time to whisk him away and clue him in on what’s really going on.

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Review: Red Tails

Sure, a January release is never a good sign, but how can you have low expectations for a film about the feats of WWII’s Tuskegee Airmen? Plus, you’d think a script based on such a stirring true story would have enough of a head start not to fall into too many holes. Maybe I don’t know as much as I think about screenwriting, but I know enough to say that Red Tails has a downright terrible script and it’s that bad apple that poisoned the rest of what could have been a really exciting and moving film.

Red Tails tells the story of the pilots in the Tuskegee training program in World War II, specifically Martin “Easy” Julian (Nate Parker), Joe “Lightning” Little (David Oyelowo), Ray “Ray Gun” Gannon (Tristan Wilds) and Samuel “Joker” George (Elijah Kelley). The foursome makes for an excellent team, but thanks to segregation, they’re stuck shooting ground bound targets like trains and trucks while the white pilots fight off the enemy during bomber escorts.

However, their big day finally comes and thanks to some negotiating on behalf of Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard), Easy, Lightning and the rest of the Tuskegee Airmen get to take to the sky and guard the bombers from German attack. While the guys are thrilled with the success of their mission and the opportunity for more chances to fight, the pressure increases as they come to the realization that they really can die out there.

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Interview: Drive Director Nicolas Winding Refn

Drive is a fairly intricate movie. The plot is simple enough – Ryan Gosling’s Driver falls for Carey Mulligan’s Irene, only to find out her family is being threatened by notorious mobsters. Gosling’s character puts his superb driving skills to use to help keep Irene and her young son stay safe. But director Nicolas Winding Refn takes the piece a giant leap further, not only dousing Drive with a unique style and tone, but also with his incredible attention to detail. Everything in Drive has a reason; every element has a value and that’s something you’d think would require a great deal of preparation – but not for Refn.

In honor of the film’s September 16th release, Refn sat down to talk about his experience bringing James Sallis’ book to life. Surprisingly, Refn isn’t working with detailed script notes or even a shot list; elements went into this movie as they came to Refn’s mind and a great deal of that happened in the midst of shooting. When we’re used to seeing filmmakers assemble features based on studio standards, something like Drive sticks out, for this isn’t a piece that conforms to anyone’s preferences except Refn’s. Hear more about his process in the video interview below.

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Review: Drive

Quite clearly director Nicolas Winding Refn worked hard to bring Drive to life in the most appropriate way possible and, in turn, we get a movie that requires a degree of personal investment. Drive isn’t the type of film that lays out its plot points and lets you follow along, rather something that gives you incredible access to the main players, compelling you to become part of the action. At times, the need to decipher the details can be frustrating, but Refn duly rewards you for your work.

Ryan Gosling stars as an unnamed stunt driver and auto mechanic. When not working for Shannon (Bryan Cranston) on movies sets or in his garage, he’s moonlighting as a getaway driver. After a hard day’s work, he heads home to his apartment, which is right down the hall from Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). With Benicio’s father in prison, there’s a void in their lives, a void that Gosling’s character happily and humbly fills.

This synopsis must be kept light, as one of Drive’s most effective assets is its ability to keep you guessing. To give you a hint at where the action heads, Irene’s safety is threatened by a pair of notorious mobsters, Nino and Bernie Rose (Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks), and Gosling’s driver steps in to keep them from hurting her or Benicio.

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Review: Contagion

Contagion is the scariest movie of the year, and that’s coming from someone with a pension for horror films. Unlike most worldwide disaster movies, Contagion doesn’t sensationalize the issue on a grand scale in an effort to shock the audience, rather it tells the tale via a variety of intimate scenarios, both giving the audience that vast scope, but also putting you right in the middle of the disaster alongside the characters that are fighting through it.

After a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) isn’t feeling great. She assumes her sore throat and headache stem from jetlag and both she and her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), dismiss her condition until Beth collapses on the kitchen floor. Almost instantaneously, she’s rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead, leaving Mitch a single parent.

An autopsy reveals Beth’s passing wasn’t due to a freak illness, the bird flu, anthrax or anything else this type of situation is usually attributed to, rather a new kind of virus with overwhelmingly powerful effects. In comes Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) of the CDC to assess the situation and take action. He sends field agent Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) to Minnesota to pinpoint Beth’s whereabouts since she’s contracted the disease to keep it from spreading. Regardless of her efforts, people all around town fall ill, reports pour in of clusters around the country and the world, and a global pandemic ensues.

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