Sunday, May 18, 2014

Godzilla (2014) Review

When you ask the Guaps what my favorite movies are you'll notice that the majority of my all time favs comes from the sci-fi/adventure genre.  (I group science-fiction and adventure because they follow similar formulas.  Note: I separate superhero movies and straight up action flicks from this genre.)  I love Back to the Future, Jurassic Park is my favorite movie, The Matrix is the bomb, Alien is a classic, Indiana Jones is the truth, and Lord of the Rings has a coveted spot in my movie collection.  It's not like I don't have a strong pallet.  Au contraire, I'm the guy you want to talk to if you're looking for a groundbreaking movie that will change your life.  I can pick out some nice comedies too if you'd like.  But today we're talking about a movie that follows a pre-historic "monster" that could possibly be real.  We're of course talking about the King of Monsters himself, Godzilla.  Now for those who don't know, Godzilla was originally inspired by the Japanese fear that the nuclear bombs dropped by the US in Japan could do some crazy shit.  I'm oversimplifying it a lot because I want to get to the review, but just know that the original Godzilla was very socially-conscious.  It wasn't until it got to the states that Godzilla became a simple story of beast vs city.  And that's how we got to older Ferris Bueller staring in the Razzie nominated Godzilla in '98.  But enough of history; let's see how this installment stacked up against the last dud and see if it reached my impossibly high expectations.

I don't have a problem with Matthew Broderick, I just don't think he should be a lead in this type of genre.  I did think this movie had some really good casting.  Bryan Cranston is never a wrong option for a movie.  He's versatile which makes his prefect for this type of movie.  And even though he's probably the best actor in the bunch he didn't overdo it and try to steal the show like some might have.  You have Ken Watanabe who brings consistency to this movie.  I've never been to a movie with Ken Watanabe in it and thought, "You know who really lowered the bar?  That Japanese dude."  Aaron Taylor-Johnson surprised me with his solid performance.  Now for those who don't recognize this actor by his name (I didn't), he's the guy from Kick-Ass.  (I know, right!  Minus points for his weird one-patch mustache.)  This genre of film is all about balance.  As far as acting goes, you can't throw that all out the window because you think CGI is gonna carry you guys home.  On the other hand you can't overact because it just doesn't look right.  I thought these guys did it right.  Here's something I learned just now.  (And I mean right now as I'm writing this.)  The girl who plays Taylor-Johnson's wife is Elizabeth Olson.  As in the recently discovered attractive sister of the Olson twins.  But back to my point: the great thing about this movie is that all the big characters (including Godzilla) get the right amount of screen time.

Speaking of Elizabeth Olson as the wife, here's an important note.  Future film makers: make your protagonists married with children.  Or at least just married.  Or divorced/widowed with a child.  It creates actual stakes in a movie.  If a bachelor dies in the film no one really cares.  Yeah his momma might be sad.  His dad might have a stiff drink that night.  His brother might ride his motorcycle into the night.  But no real stakes.  A married man with a kid leaves a lot behind if he goes.  (Formula works best if the kid isn't annoying a la Dakota Fanning.)   Gives us something to root for without having to rely on charisma.  It's not like it can't be done with a single guy, it's just a little tougher and you have to deal with a budding on-screen romance to carry the film and add stakes and tension.  I don't like this for three reasons: 1) it  makes the movie more about the romance than anything 2) in order for this to work the chemistry between the actor and actress has to be phenomenal 3) you know deep down that the catastrophe/adventure is the only thing that brought those two together and after the whole thing is resolved the couple probably wouldn't work out.  That kind of romance makes the hero's extraordinary actions simply motivated by him trying to get his D wet.  But Michael Bay loves to do this type of shit.  And now I'm getting off topic.

Basically this all comes down to writing.  The writing is the most important part of an adventure film because again, it's all about finding that balance.  You have to keep it simple and easy enough to follow but you want to give the viewer something intelligent.  You don't want to insult the audience by spelling everything out and making the movie predictable.  This movie was really well written and that writing is what keeps the movie moving forward.  It allows the audience to get captivated with the rest the movie has to offer.  It answers important questions while letting the audience let their imagination run wild.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the most comparable to this movie in terms of writing brilliance.  (Just so I don't look stupid, let me check IMDb real quick to find out who wrote this... Nope, the writer of this movie actually wrote one of the worst written current franchises to date, The Expendables.)  Another thing is sometimes movies take themselves too seriously when they shouldn't be and vice versa.  This creates a sort of identity crisis.  This movie knew to take itself seriously and that's why it worked.

As I was leaving the theater a thought came to mind: this movie, with all of its already great components, could have been ruined by the wrong director.  And the director that came to mind was non-other than Michael Bay.  I don't want to sound like I hate all his movies, but I feel like most of them would have been better without his involvement.  It's like saying I don't think Danny Granger is a bad player, but I noticed how much better the Pacers were when he was nursing those injuries last season.  Michael Bay would have doubled the explosions and made the whole movie about the action and used characters soley as comic relief and romance scene fillers.  He probably would have casted Shia LaBeouf.  I don't know why, but Michael Bay really made me upset today by his existence in Hollywood.  Again, I digress.  Gareth Edwards did a seemingly flawless job with this movie.  Everything just worked as he was able to allow the movie to be centered around characters while still letting his amazing visual effects serve as the backdrop to find, here it comes, the perfect balance.  And if you're looking for great city destruction scenes, I think these were good enough to crack this list.

So how did this movie do?  Compared to the Matthew Broderick version, better.  (A lot better.)  That's actually an understatement but that wouldn't mean much because 43 minutes of Bryan Cranston beat boxing and a six second blurry still of Godzilla would be better than Godzilla (1998).  I was no older than five when I watched it and I still hated it.  (That's saying something.)  The only thing 1998 has over 2014 is that in this new version Godzilla is looking kinda chubby.  Honestly I'm more scared of Ready-for-beach-season Godzilla than Freshman-fifteen Godzilla but other than that this new movie scored significantly better in every department.  (To be fair CGI wasn't what it needed to be in 1998.)  What really impressed me about this movie was the fact that it met and might have even surpassed my expectations.  When the first trailer came out I was excited as fuck.  I was telling everybody I knew that this was gonna be the summer blockbuster.  So the hype I already created for myself was already through the roof.  That's always a sign for upcoming disappointment.  But somehow, someway this movie rose to the occasion and if its sole purpose was to ensure I didn't look like an idiot.  (If Johnny Manziel can follow suit, that would be golden.)  Well thank you, Godzilla, thank you.  For a sci-fi/adventure movie, I give this a Guapisimo.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  I am your host, El Guapo and it's always good to meet new friends.  Leave comments and what not in the section below.  I take all your opinions into consideration.  (Kind of.) Check out Godzilla, tell me what you think.  Maybe I missed something.  Follow me on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 and Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Until next time, stay Guapo out there!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

KD 4 MVP/Goodbye Mark Jackson

Yesterday a big day in the NBA so let's just get to the nitty-gritty.  After years of playing second fiddle to LeBron James for the coveted MVP trophy, Kevin Durant finally got his and gave an emotional speech where he thanked his momma and his teammates.  I'm a fan of Kevin Durant.  I like his gameplay and the fact that he hates all the nicknames the public want to give him.  (He's more of an initials type of guy.)  But it took him a negative nickname from a newspaper in Oklahoma (didn't know they were literate there) to give him the spark he needed to take down the Memphis Grizzlies AKA the slowest team in the NBA since the 2013 Memphis Grizzlies.  Shit, that would motivate me too.  If someone wrote in the comments section in my blog and called me "Mr. Unreliable" I'd go on a string of masterfully written pieces so good they would have to fit it in the American Constitution.  But no one has ever written that about me and no one ever will.  Why?  Because I'm so damn reliable with this blog shit.

This MVP was well-deserved for Kevin Durant and even though LeBron put up another good season, Kevin Durant was un-fuck-wit-able.  And KD didn't win MVP because people were tired of LeBron James winning.  (Though that does help.)  KD has long been trying to get his star up there in the upper echelon of NBA greats for sometime now.  Two Years ago KD and King James were in one of the tightest MVP races I could remember.  At the time I was still upset over the Decision and was going for Durant.  James won but I couldn't be upset because it wasn't like he didn't deserve it.  I just thought Durant deserved it more.  The following year was a no-brainer.  LeBron had this streak of six 30+ plus games shooting 60% or more from the field and led the Heat to a 28 game win streak.  KD joining the 50-40-90 club couldn't push him over the hump.  But now here we are.  In a season where Durant averaged 32 ppg shooting over 50% from the field, a season in which he scored 25+ in 41 straight games passing MJ's streak of 40, Kevin Durant is finally MVP.  LeBron tried to make it competitive when he went for 61 (which doesn't top Melo's 62) but Durant ended that discussion fairly quickly and he did it in the absence of Russell Westbrook.  (Some would argue that helped.)  KD was undeniably this year's Most Valuable Player but I remember as the season went along and I knew that he was most deserving of the prestigious award a startling thought came to my mind.  What if the voters somehow fuck up on the vote?  It's happened before.  So here I present 5 questionable MVP decisions.

(1961-1962) Bill Russell over Wilt Chamberlain

Now I'm not saying Bill Russell isn't that dude.  He deserves all the MVPs he's won (which is a lot).  He had an MVP worthy season that year.  But Wilt AVERAGED 50 ppg.  50!  No one had ever done that and no has since.

(1978-1979) Bill Walton over George Gervin

I don't know if I picked this one because I don't like Bill Walton or because I genuinely believe the Iceman had a better season.  (It's mostly because I hate Walton.)  Why do I not like Bill?  Is it his voice?  Is it everything he's ever said while commentating a game?  Is it because Luke is his seed?  Either way he put up an 18 and 12 season which is cool I guess.  Not mind-blowing.

(1989-1990) Magic Johnson over Charles Barkley

If anything I just find it curious that Chuck got more first place votes but Magic came up with the MVP.  (It's those second place votes.)  Michael was also in the running but Chuck had some pretty impressive numbers that year.

(2004-2005) Steve Nash over Shaquille O' Neal

Nash is probably one of the best point guards in NBA history and he did lead the Phoenix Suns to success in the regular season/failure in the playoffs.  (Just like Chris Paul.)  But O' Canada himself didn't deserve MVP over Shaq especially when Nash posted numbers like 15 and 11 and when Shaq turned the Miami Heat into instant contenders.  Dirk would have also been a good choice.

(2005-2006) Steve Nash over LeBron James

I'll go ahead and say that if Steve Nash deserved to win the MVP only one time it would be this year.  He did join the 50-40-90 club.  (Remind you of someone?)  But I still find it ridiculous that he's a back to back MVP winner.  You know who doesn't have 2 MVPs?  Shaq.  Kobe. (And I HATE Kobe.)  Dr. J.

Kevin Durant almost because part of an infamous club of MVPs who lost in the first round of the playoffs.  Do you know who is also part of that club?  Our good friend Dirk Nowitzki who along with his #1 seeded Mavs lost to the heroes of the We Believe Warriors squad.  It's not a fun club to be a part of but with this trophy on his mantel above the fireplace KD can focus up on avenging our loss to the Clippers.  Maybe, just maybe, he might fuck around and end the Lil B curse by winning a ring.

Here's the other big news of May 6, 2014.  Mark Jackson, coach of the Golden State Warriors, got fired.  Coaches get fired all the time.  Sometimes it makes sense, like when a coach fails to get his team to the playoffs.  When coaches get fired after a winning season it gets confusing.  George Karl got fired after winning Coach of the Year last year.  As asinine as it sounds the decision can be justified.  (Sorta.)  George Karl took a pack of players who would come off the bench on most elite teams and turned them into a top tier unit.  Unfortunately for them they lost in the first round in the playoffs (to the Warriors), which had been a tradition of George Karl.  Under Mark Jackson the Warriors improved their record every year and made the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time since the early 90s.  On one hand he has had some trouble with the higher ups and had some issues with his coaching staff.  The higher ups believe that with the roster we have now the Warriors underachieved.  Maybe, maybe not.  Did the Warriors blow some games at home to teams we should not be losing to?  Yeah, of course.  But I will say this: the players loved Mark Jackson.  They believed in him and cherished him and for that reason I would argue it wasn't the best decision.  Also when you fire a preacher I'm not too sure it sits well with the man upstairs.  But whether or not this was a mistake depends almost entirely on who supersedes him.  I just want to say thank you Mark Jackson.  I didn't believe in you when you first came but you took this team to place it hasn't been in a while.  I wish him well in his future endeavors and look forward to the future.

In case you read this and were wondering the whole time, "who is this genius?", I am El Guapo and thank you for taking precious time out of your day to read this blog.  If you have any comments, questions or suggestions leave them in the comment section below.  Follow me on Twitter @ELGUAPO3 or Instagram @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME.  Have a great day and stay Guapo out there!