Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the Elton John fantasy flick “Rocketman,” the foot-stompin’ “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the fashion documentary “Halston.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the glittering Elton John musical fantasy “Rocketman,” the big monster movie “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the fashion doc “Halston” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Elton John fantasy flick “Rocketman,” the foot-stompin’ “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the fashion documentary “Halston.”
If Blue Öyster Cult were to write the hit song “Godzilla” today they’d have to change the lyrics. In 1977 they sang, “Oh, no, there goes Tokyo.” Today the prehistoric sea monster has expanded his worldview beyond Asia and is now concerned with the entire planet.
The action in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” begins when paleo-biologist Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped by terrorists. What would these bad people want with this Emma and Madison? Turns out Emma belongs to the crypto-zoological agency Monarch, a scientific watchdog group who study the Titans, creatures long believed to be myths. Along with her ex-husband Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) Emma invented “the Orca,” a device that allows communication with these mysterious beasts. More importantly, for the bad guys at least, it can also “control them using their bioacoustics on a sonar level.”
As reluctant hero Mark teams with Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) to save Emma and Madison from the kidnappers the Titans, Mothra, Rodan, the three-headed King Ghidorah and others, rise, threatening to destroy the earth. It’s the ultimate clash of the Titans as Godzilla (who now appears to have a beer belly) stomps in to level the playing field. Cue the Blue Öyster Cult: “Go, go, Godzilla (yeah).”
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a remarkable achievement. It’s one of the most incomprehensible movies in the “Godzilla” franchise and that is really saying something. This story of restoring harmony to the world by releasing these angry monsters is pure codswallop and remember, this is the series that once devoted an entire movie to the king of the monsters teaching his dim-witted son how to how to control his atomic breath.
I’ll start with the script, and I only call it that because it contains words and was presumably written by people and not some kind of Kaiju-Auto-Cliché generating device. Ripe with pop psychology (“Moments of crisis can become moments of faith.” #Deep), horrible dialogue (“We’ve opened Pandora’s Box and there is no closing it!” #howmanytimeshaveweheardthat?) and several big emotional moments you won’t care about because the characters are walking, talking b-movie stereotypes, the movie is as clumsy as the script is dumb.
But you don’t go to a Godzilla movie for the human content; you go to see Titans battling it out and on that score “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” delivers. Unlike the 2014 Gareth Edwards reboot the new film wastes no time in introducing the radioactive monsters. We then sit through a bunch of pseudo-scientific pontification until the main event, the cage match between G-zil and his three-headed foe. In those moments the film improves, mostly because these characters don’t spout endless exposition about saving the world. They simply fight. It’s WrestleMania with fire-breathers and when they’re wreaking havoc it’s a good, fist-pumping time.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is in 3D—Death, Destruction and Decibels—and has a certain kind of cheesy appeal. Watching the cast of good international actors try and play it straight as they muddle through the nonsense leading up to the climax is fun for a short time but next time I hope we get more actual monsters and less monstrous scripting.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the Elton John musical fantasy “Rocketman” and the big monster movie “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the great ape flick “Kong: Skull Island,” the Shirley MacLaine dramedy “The Last Word” and the animated “Window Horses.”
Only two things are sure about Skull Island. First, it is home to Megaprimatus kong a.k.a. King Kong and a menagerie of prehistoric creatures. Second, as Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) says in this weekend’s Kong: Skull Island, “We don’t belong here.”
The latest adventures of King Kong take place almost entirely on the island but what, exactly, do we know about the place?
Not much, because Skull Island is uncharted and changes from film to film.
In the new movie, a digital map image suggests the island derived its intimidating name from its gorilla skull profile shape but originally the isle wasn’t called Skull Island. The best-known versions of the Kong story, the original 1933 Merian C. Cooper film and the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis production, never mention Skull Island.
The first movie and its subsequent novelisation describe a “high wooded island with a skull-like knob” called Skull Mountain while the ‘76 film refers to Beach of the Skull. It wasn’t until 2004’s Kong: King of Skull Island illustrated novel that the name was first used. Since then the moniker has stuck.
The same can’t be said for its location.
Over the years it’s been pegged everywhere from the coast of Indonesia and southwest of Central America to the Bermuda Triangle and the Coral Sea off the east coast of Australia.
In reality many places have subbed in for the island. In 1933 several locations were pieced together to create Kong’s home.
Outdoor scenes were shot at Long Beach, California and the caves at Bronson Canyon near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Everything else was filmed on a soundstage in Culver City using odds and ends from other sets. The giant Skull Mountain gate was later reused in Gone with the Wind’s burning of Atlanta sequence.
De Laurentiis spared no expense bringing the island to life in 1976, moving the entire crew to the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The shoot began at the remote Honopu Beach, a place the crew were told was deserted. Arriving in four helicopters laden with equipment they were greeted by a honeymooning couple who, thinking they had the place to themselves, had slept nude on the beach.
The impressive stone arch seen in the film — “Beyond the arch, there is danger, there is Kong!” — was natural and so huge years later when an episode of Acapulco Heat was filmed there a helicopter flew underneath it.
Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong reboot used a combination of New Zealand’s picturesque Shelly Bay and Lyall Bay as Skull Island’s “jungle from hell.” In the film’s closing credits the director paid tongue-in-cheek tribute to all the stars of the 1933 movie, calling them, “The original explorers of Skull Island.”
This weekend’s installment was shot in Vietnam, Queensland, Australia and Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, where giant sets were built near where Jurassic World was filmed.
The scenery, as John Goodman’s character says, is “magnificent,” but there was also a practical reason to shoot in these exotic locations. The Hollywood Reporter stated the production shot in Australia to take advantage of a whopping 16.5% location offset incentive — i.e. tax break — offered by the Australian government.
Kong: Skull Island describes the isle as “a place where myth and science meet.”
On film though, it’s a spot where the imaginations of Kong fans run wild.
Set in 1973, the “Kong: Skull Island” is unrelated to the Kongs that came before. There’s no Empire State Building, no Jessica Lange, no romance between damsel and beast.
John Goodman is Bermuda Triangle conspiracy theorist William Randa, a man with some wild ideas about an uncharted island in the South Pacific. “This planet doesn’t belong to us. Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind. I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist.” With government funding supplied by a senator (Richard Jenkins) Randa leads an expedition to prove his ideas about certain life forms on the planet. Along for the ride are a military helicopter squadron, a handful of scientists, U.S. military commander Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), former British soldier turned mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and antiwar photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).
Arriving at the island they are greeted by the tallest King Kong ever. “Is that a monkey?” gasps Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell). Some monkey. At over 100 feet he dwarfs his cinematic brothers—1933’s Kong was 24 feet, the 1976 version was 55 feet while Peter Jackson knocked him back to 25 feet for his 2005 adaptation—and easily knocks many of Randa’s helicopters from the air.
The survivors hit the ground running, only to meet up with Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a World War II fighter pilot stranded on the island for decades. “You’ve probably noticed a lot of weird things on this island,” he says in the understatement of the century. As they try and brave the treacherous landscape to meet a refuelling team at the north end of the island the motley crew soon realizes Kong isn’t their only or even biggest problem.
At its furry heart “Kong: Skull Island” feels like an anti-war movie. At least half of it does. The opening section, roughly half the movie, suggests the unintentional and deadly consequences that come from dropping bombs were you shouldn’t. “You didn’t go to someone’s house and start dropping bombs and less you’re looking for a fight.” It’s a timely message about unleashing powers we don’t understand in the name of war wrapped in a Vietnam allegory. “Sometimes the enemy doesn’t exist until you show up at his doorstep,” says Cole (Shea Whigham).
Then Reilly enters and with him comes a new shift. What was once a message movie is now a story of survival and giant beasts. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts pivots at this point, staging a series of action scenes with cool creatures, and it works as pure creature feature entertainment. It’s cool to see Kong tossing military helicopters around as though they were Tonka Toys and another scene will make you think twice about sitting on an old hollowed out log. Fans of bigly beast action will be more than satisfied with the final battle between Kong and a massive subterranean people eater.
“Kong: Skull Island’s” social commentary doesn’t fade away completely but Kong’s mighty roar does drown most of it out. Just below the roar, almost out of earshot, is the idea that displays of force aren’t always the way to deal with conflict, a rare sentiment for an action movie laden with WMDs. Mostly the flick provides a fun romp with some big budget beasts and (secondarily) an Oscar winner or two.
Words like disappointing, dismal and other disparaging words beginning with the letter “d” have been used to describe the summer’s box office yield.
In movieland the summer season is defined as the first Friday in May through Labor Day Weekend, a period that saw revenues fall to an eight year low, down 15% from 2013.
There were some very big hits, like Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers: Age of Extinction, but even their multi-million dollar grosses weren’t enough to compete with last year’s $4.75 billion overall take.
“We’ve seen this before,” says Michael Kennedy, Executive Vice President, Filmed Entertainment at Cineplex. “Right now everybody’s binging. After a while they will get tired of binge watching TV and say, ‘I’m really tired of being in my house. I want to go out.’”
Kennedy adds that the summer slump could also be attributed to several high profile absences.
“Pixar was originally scheduled to go in the summer with a film that got moved back and Fast and Furious was supposed to go but after Paul Walker’s accident they moved the movie back and nobody replaced it. One or two movies move and millions disappear.”
So how does it work? How do studios and distributors determine a release schedule? Mongrel Media’s Director of Marketing Danish Vahidy says studios put “down the tent pole for flagship properties one, two or sometimes three years in advance. With the success of sequels studios feel more secure planning in advance for franchises rather than an unknown entity.”
That means the wannabe blockbusters from this summer, the X-Men, Godzilla and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles et al, probably had release dates attached to them before Prince William walked Catherine Middleton down the aisle at Westminster Abbey.
Kennedy says counterprogramming is one of the keys. “They look at what everybody else does and if they see a Fast and Furious sitting on the second week of July and they have an action movie, they’re staying away from that weekend.”
Mongrel Media took a risk and counterprogrammed a movie that went on to become one of their biggest hits of the summer. “Boyhood was released in July as the summertime nicely captured the notion of childhood set in the film,” Vahidy says. “It was also a great way to counter program with the Hollywood blockbusters and offer movie goers a smart original film as an option.” The critically acclaimed film was aimed at a different audience than the other two big releases that week, Disney’s kid friendly Planes and the raunchy Cameron Diaz comedy Sex Tape. “That move paid off for us as Boyhood is one of our most successful releases ever with a theatrical box-office of over $2.3 million in Canada and growing.”
So why didn’t it work for the big releases this summer? Suggested reasons for the downturn range from a lack of family movies, which traditionally pull in big numbers, too many sequels and superhero movies and even divided attention from the World Cup.
Kennedy adds one more reason. “Everybody has busy lives,” he says. “The one thing we’ve always found is that people always come back. It’s not the price of the movie ticket or the popcorn, it’s putting aside the time to go. People want to go out and we offer the most affordable out-of-home experience there is.”