Noah (2014) Miller Meter-7/10

Directed By:  Darren Aronofsky

Written By:  Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

PG-13     2 h 18 min – Action | Adventure | Drama

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Godzilla (2014) 6.5/10

Directed By:  Gareth Edwards

Written By:  Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham

Starring:  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe

PG-13     2 h 3 min – Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller

 

As most of you know already I had been dying for this flick several months before it was released.  Having been very well educated by my old man, Godzilla was a household favorite for me.  Mothra, Rodan, whoever, I loved it.  So when I heard that Gareth Edwards was doing the reboot I was pumped.  He wrote and directed 2010’s underrated “Monsters” which I thought was unique and promising, so when he was named director of Godzilla, I had high hopes.  It stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, and Ken Watanabe.  While living in Japan working at a nuclear power plant Joe Brody (Cranston) is alarmed at unusual seismic activity.  The further he investigates, the more paranormal it becomes.  A freak “earthquake” of perfectly patterned shocks shakes the plant to the point of collapse causing evacuation.  In a pretty epic and suspenseful scene, Brody lost what was most dear to him.  Fast forward 15 years or so and we see young Ford Brody (Johnson) all grown up and in the military.  He returns home from tour to wife Elle (Olsen) and a kid of his own.  Almost immediately upon his return he receives word from Japan that his father had been locked up in jail for trespassing.  He decides to go to Japan to bail his old man out and bring him state-side to try and help him out.  Once he reunites with his father he quickly see that his father’s obsession with trying to figure out what EXACTLY happened that day at the plant hasn’t subsided with time.  Ford sr. goes on and on about how it wasn’t a quake, it was something else…what could it have been I wonder?  We hop over to Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Watanabe) who’s a scientist currently experimenting on some sort of unknown creature.  Shit goes bad real quick (as it typically does in this scenario) and a massive winged creature takes flight from the site.  It starts destroying everything around it and Ishiro’s path ultimately crosses with the Ford fam’s and they form an alliance.  Ford’s data from way back when proves to be useful in understand this creature in the here and now.  Ford Jr. takes action as the military side comes out and starts to help them search and destroy this newly freed monster.  They learn that the monster feeds off nuclear energy, so they do have some ideas as to where they can look.  Unfortunately for them (so we think) they start to notice some more unusual activity stemming from the depths of the sea.  All of a sudden a massive reading pops up…GODZILLA!  From here we have a battle of the monsters, with Dr. Ishiro in one corner saying that there’s a natural order to things and we should let them fight, and then there’s the guys in cams saying we need to blow them all up.  It proved for a pretty entertaining little 3 way of who’s the antagonist? Cities are leveled, bombs blow up, monsters roar, people run, and the movie ends.  What’s my take?  Well to be honest, the trailers made it look absolutely epic and amazing.  It wasn’t.  Epic? Sure, I guess, but nothing like I expected.  There wasn’t enough battle between Godzilla and the others.  I will say that when they did fight, and when we the audience was privy to it I was blown away by the effects and really into it.  It seemed like the action stopped as quickly as it started, leaving me wanting more at every fight scene.  Not good considering it’s an action/epic.  I did like all the characters and I loved the story.  Everyone who showed up brought their A-game especially Cranston, I just love that guy.  There was a time about 1:15 in where I was getting bored and just so badly wanted to see Godzilla tearing it up and didn’t.  Another huge problem I have is when a key scene of a trailer doesn’t make the cut of the final film.  One of the coolest scenes I wanted to see wasn’t even in the movie, total bummer.  Overall it was fun, and Godzilla is extremely badass, I just didn’t get enough of what I wanted.

Elysium (2013) Miller Meter—9/10

Directed By:  Neil Blomkamp

Written By:  Neil Blomkamp

Starring:  Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga

R     1 h 49 min – Action | Drama | Sci-Fi

 

If you’re a science fiction nerd like me, then welcome to a dream come true.  The film stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga and Diego Luna.  The year is 2154 and Earth is a wasteland, overpopulated and heavily degraded.  The citizens of Earth are looked down upon by the population of Elysium-a space station/habitat occupied and operated by the upper echelon of society where death, disease and crime are nonexistent.  Max (Damon) is one citizen of Earth who’s dreamed of migrating to Elysium since childhood.  His dream suddenly becomes a forced reality when he is exposed to enough radiation on the job to warrant death within five days…unless he gets up to Elysium to heal himself (They’ve got nifty gizmos that resemble a tanning bead that can fix anything your body’s got going on).  He journeys through the underground of Earth with his buddy Julio (Luna) trying everything and anything he can to make his way up there.  The situation becomes even more desperate when his life-long sweetheart Frey (Braga) presents him with yet another challenge…getting her daughter who’s terminally ill up there with him.  Elysium is pretty heavily fortified with a cutthroat female powerhouse named Delacourt (Foster) behind the stations security.  Throw an agent of their security named Kruger (Copley) into the mix and you’ve got some pretty powerful conflict from the antagonists.  Blomkamp’s background in special effects really shines through; from start to finish the film’s effects are absolutely mind blowing.  His vision of the future (though pretty pessimistic) is portrayed in a way that’s not just believable but it’s done so well that you ALMOST wish it was real….so long as you make it to Elysium of course.  The cinematography was stellar, a masterpiece aesthetically.  Matt Damon really steals the show.  His performance was electrifying, taking this gem of a script and gives it as much power as it truly deserves.  My ONLY gripe with the film is that I would have loved more of Elysium.  I wanted to know how it worked, how these people lived etc.  But giving us the story from the vantage point of an Earth born citizen gives it the emotional charge to keep us rooting for Max to get there and tear shit up.  This film accomplished what science fiction hasn’t done in a long time…so it gets a 9 on the Meter.  Let’s just hope Blomkamp doesn’t slow down, because he’s on a winning streak right now for sure, I can’t wait for what’s next!

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Miller Meter-10/10

Directed By: Doug Liman

Written By: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

PG 13     1 h 53 min – Action | Sci-Fi

 

Well here’s the first blow-out blockbuster of the summer starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson.  Earth has been invaded by a relentless alien race referred to as “mimics” and they’re a seemingly undefeatable force.  Man unites and wins one battle against them via superstar soldier Rita Vrataski (Blunt).  With their recent victory our armed forces decide to attack again in an all-out assault to end the war once and for all.  Major William Cage (Cruise) is a PR rep for the military, spinning the stories in the news to give society some hope that we’ve got a shot against them.  He is called upon by General Brigham (Gleeson) to give the people a first-hand depiction of battle by storming the front lines in combat.  Of course Cage refuses, due to his lack of experience and even less courage, which of course doesn’t fly with the General.  Next thing he knows, Cage wakes up at an outpost preparing for battle.  Unable to convince the cut-throat Master Sergeant Farell (Paxton) of his true identity, Cage winds up in an airship heading to battle.  He lands on the beach and has no clue how to use his weapon riddled mechanical suit and ends up dying within minutes; only to wake up once again at the base he was at earlier.  He re-lives this several times when finally he realizes that no matter what he does he re-lives that day over and over.  In battle he sees the heroic Rita and attempts to save her.  After living the battle so many times he comes to know what’s comin’ and ends up saving her life.  She catches on to what’s happening and tells him to find her when he wakes up…easier said than done.  Each time he wakes up again, he maneuvers himself through the day figuring out how he can land a conversation with the illustrious heroine.  He finds that like him, she once re-lived the same day over and over, dying each time to wake up again at the beginning.  In order to outsmart the enemy they form an alliance and relive the day over and over getting closer to victory each time.  The plot of this flick is what really caught me.  The story is edgy (pun?) and more fun than I’ve had in a sci-fi flick in a long time.  The dialogue was spot on, it never got cheesy, it never lost me, and it was complex enough to keep me focused without totally spinning me out either.  Tom Cruise made the movie; it’s really nice to see him in his element again.    He made the character totally believable and proved once again why he’ll go down as one of the great action heroes of our time.  Much of his power came from his co-star.  Emily Blunt was the meat and potatoes of the story; she gave it the touches it needed to be perfect.  She brought comfort, sex appeal and at times some much needed comic relief to an otherwise dark story.  She played her part perfectly.  I loved that it never became solely about love, nor was it solely based on defeating the enemy either.  It was a perfect balance of comradery, desperation and love as well.  One could expect that director Doug Liman would really pull out all the stops following his success with the “Bourne” franchise and he did exactly that.  The special effects were mind-blowing.  It was as if “Elysium” and “Battle LA” met, fell in love, and had a baby that grew to be a success its parents only dreamed of being.  The cinematography was gripping and only a few times did it move to fast to follow.  The battle scenes were adrenaline fueled and epic every single time.  Anytime an action movie has soldiers storming a beach I’m excited, there’s just somethin’ about it.  This one was great because we got to relive it a few times with different angles and more progress made each time.  It’s easy to assume that reliving the same day over and over again would get rote for an audience but it never did, which is pretty impressive.  An absolutely killer cast with explosive chemistry, amazing special effects and battle sequences, perfect cinematography and a refreshingly original premise land this one a 10 on the Meter.