Cinemas & Home Entertainment This Week…
GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with two legends battling it out for your box office dollar on the big screen while home entertainment serves up a time-travelling slasher oddity!
GODZILLA II: KING OF THE MONSTERS
Genre filmmaker Michael Dougherty (KRAMPUS, TRICK ‘R’ TREAT) directs this latest cinematic outing of everyone’s favourite prehistoric sea monster come pop-cultural icon, GODZILLA. While this instalment is the second GODZILLA film to come out of Hollywood in recent years, it is in fact the third entry in Legendary Pictures’s ‘MonsterVerse’, following KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017) and GODZILLA (2014), with GODZILLA VS KONG to come next year, from a script by Dougherty and directed by fellow genre stalwart Adam Wingard (THE GUEST, YOU’RE NEXT). Thankfully GODZILLA II: KING OF THE MONSTERS delivers on its promise of monsters, in fact three new kaiju (Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah) are ushered into the universe and the sheer spectacle of their city-scaled squabbles is truly awe-inspiring, from the richly detailed texture of the creature design to the prizefight choreography of their showdowns. Unfortunately with all that awesome comes clown car full of characters who do little more than provide excessive exposition, create unnecessary human drama and ultimately slow the pace. Memo to Hollywood: We came to the see the monsters, not Coach Taylor, Lorraine Warren & Eleven in HOME ALONE 6: LOST IN BOSTON. While GODZILLA II is far from perfect, its a step in the right direction and we can only hope that old mate’s next bout on the big screen will bring with it more fight and less drama. Crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
Rock biopics are in vogue and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY co-director Dexter Fletcher (EDDIE THE EAGLE) helms this sometimes ugly but always magical account of Elton John’s life. Adopting a musical structure, ROCKETMAN distances itself from the aforementioned feature with its narrative approach, allowing anything seemingly important that’s gone untold or perhaps been conveniently repurposed to be completely forgivable…never let a true story get in the way of a good opportunity to break out in song! However the songs do tend to go on and on, leaving little time to bring about any genuine depth to Elton’s story, a shame given how fascinating a character he is. That said the costuming, production design, choreography and just about everything on a technical level is perfect, there’s no doubt that ROCKETMAN’s style is befitting of the legend that is Elton. The fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John, set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton – tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 U
Returning writer/director Christopher Landon crafts a sequel to his 2017 breakout hit, HAPPY DEATH DAY, that takes a unique approach to following on from its predecessor. Rather than retread old ground, Landon expands the universe from the first film to a multiverse whereby the events of its previous chapter only exist in one version of reality. Confused? Well HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U is anything but confusing, in fact it takes the often difficult task of navigating the parallel universe theory and delivers a succinct slasher with comic flair, creative kills and a twist that you’ll no doubt see coming but remains rewarding regardless. While HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U never manages to better its predecessor, it does deliver a highly original concept and that alone is a bold achievement for a genre that is renowned for retreads. This time, our hero Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.
Filmmaker Hans Petter Moland (A CONSPIRACY OF FAITH) helms this international remake of his own 2014 Norwegian feature, IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE. Starring box office dependable Liam Neeson, COLD PURSUIT is a revenge-thriller that differs from Neeson’s most recent work in that it blends its vigilante violence with tongue-in-cheek humour. Similar in tone to the Coen Brothers’s crime thrillers, FARGO and BLOOD SIMPLE, though lacking the subtlety, COLD PURSUIT is a fast-paced and fulfilling two hours of cinematic retribution. Welcome to Kehoe, it’s -10 degrees and counting at this glitzy ski resort in the Rocky Mountains. The local police aren’t used to much action until the son of unassuming town snowplow driver, Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson), is murdered at the order of Viking (Tom Bateman), a flamboyant drug lord. Fueled by rage and armed with heavy machinery, Nels sets out to dismantle the cartel one man at a time, but his understanding of murder comes mainly from what he read in a crime novel. As the bodies pile up, his actions ignite a turf war between Viking and his long-standing rival White Bull (Tom Jackson), a soulful Native-American mafia boss, that will quickly escalate and turn the small town’s bright white slopes blood-red.
GODZILLA (1998) (4K Ultra-HD Only)
The trick to enjoying Roland Emmerich’s 1998 adaptation of the beloved Japanese pop-culture icon, GODZILLA, is to pretend its not a GODZILLA film and enjoy it on its merits, almost as if it were the unofficial JURASSIC PARK 3. Emmerich, the director of INDEPENDENCE DAY and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW is notorious for zero substance and pure spectacle when it comes to cinema and his take on GODZILLA is no different. This film is big, loud and dumb so load up on popcorn and prepare to be entertained with this, the guiltiest of guilty pleasure films! Following French atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific, an unknown creature is spotted passing through the Panama Canal. Scientist Niko Tatopolous is called in to investigate the matter, and he quickly arrives at the conclusion that a giant, irradiated lizard has been created by the explosions. Godzilla then makes its way north, landing in Manhattan to begin wreaking havoc in the big city. Sony Pictures 4K Ultra-HD/Blu-ray release contains very little in the way Special Features aside from a few HD teasers and trailers but the real reason for upgrading your Blu-ray is its monstrous Dolby Atmos track that will literally shake your living room, in fact this is one of the best object-based remixes of a back catalogue title yet.
Bryan Cranston & Kevin Heart headline this uplighting, heartfelt and often hilarious reworking of the 2011 French feature THE INTOUCHABLES, and due to the strong chemistry of its leads it elevates the material far beyond its predictable narrative. A recently paroled ex-convict, Dell (Hart), strikes up an unusual and unlikely friendship with a quadriplegic billionaire, Phillip Lacasse (Cranston), in this “funny and warm-hearted buddy comedy” (Pete Hammond, Deadline). From worlds apart, Dell and Phillip form an unlikely bond, bridging their differences and gaining invaluable wisdom in the process, giving each man a renewed sense of passion for all of life’s possibilities. Transmission’s Blu-ray & DVD release contains a three minute Gag Reel with Cranston and Hart riffing off one another during takes.
Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.