Godzilla (2014)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen
Running Time: 2 hrs, 3 mins
Rated: PG-13

Review by Brother Reed

SPOILER WARNING: This review references the movie’s ending and other plot developments throughout. Read at your own risk.

The moment the screen went black, I threw up my hands in exasperation. It was an emotion that had been building slowly over the past hour. This was the first time that I, a lifelong Godzilla fan, had ever seen the King of the Monsters on the big screen. I should be ecstatic. The last time he came to an American cinema was a universally recognized travesty, disowned and dismissed by most fans as an affront to the character’s legacy; and this new movie is by all accounts a superior entry into the well-loved saga. So why was I so disappointed? In fact, disappointment is really the wrong word for it. I was angry. I felt cheated. Bamboozled. Snookered. Ne’er-done-well. I won’t reproduce here the exact comments I made in the theater but here’s a visual aid:

Prometheus (2012)
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron
Running Time: 2 hrs. 4 min
Rated: R

Review by Brother Reed

Thrilling. Beautiful. Ambitious. Messy. Frustrating. Captivating. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, an original science fiction epic set in the Alien universe and tangentially related to that seminal film, is all of these things and more. Scott himself helped shape the genre 30+ years ago when he helmed Blade Runner and Alien – both now considered sci-fi classics – and his return to form is exciting to behold. It’s a spectacle of both practical and computer effects as well as a gallimaufry of the unsearchable ideas with which sci-fi must eternally contend. And it’s the best film of its kind in a decade. READ FULL REVIEW

King Kong (1933)
Director: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
Running Time: 1 hr, 44 min
Rated: NR

Review by Brother Reed

Here’s a blast from the past: King Kong is 77 years old this year. For the current generation, that’s older than a lot of grandparents. My own grandfather, who passed away just a few years ago, would have been only a boy when it was released. And what a spectacle it must have been! Seeing Kong on the big screen with an excited crowd for the first time in 1933 should have been captivating (and much safer than for the eerily similar audience sitting in front of Carl Denham’s hubris exhibit in the final act of the movie). Unfortunately, it’s an experience that cannot be recreated in the modern world. With decades of movies and billions of dollars worth of special effects under our belts, today’s audience is more difficult to impress. In a very real way, King Kong is itself the grandfather of the modern monster movie, and while we may respect our grandparents, our ideas of fun are generally a little different. I freely admit, as a self-professed monster aficionado, Kong has suffered some generation decay for me as well. While that means I wasn’t blown away by Kong in the same way as its contemporaries, I still view the movie as an entertaining mile marker in film history. READ FULL REVIEW

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LeBeouf
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min
Rated: PG-13

Indiana Jones: The Animated Adventures

How do you know when your movie franchise has really taken off? How do you know that it has mass appeal? That it’s really going to stick around? That it has something to offer every member of the family? Happy Meal toys are a great start, but sometimes they just aren’t enough for fans who have fallen deeply, strangely in love with your characters and their universe so that they feel the need to extend it in any way possible. Countless viewings of a sacred trilogy, for instance, will only take you so far. Sometimes authors will write expanded universe books on the subject, but honestly who reads books? This is the 21st century after all. FULL REVIEW

Up (2009)
Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai
Running Time: 1 hr, 36 min
Rated: PG

Review by Brother Reed

You don’t need a review to help you decide whether or not you are going to see the new 3D animated movie, Up. You already know you are going to see it. The reason? You noticed it is the latest offering from Pixar studios; and because you’ve been paying attention for the last decade or so, you know that Pixar has been responsible for consistent, high-quality films such as Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Wall-E. With each new movie, the animation gets better as technological advances enable the team of creative wizards to render light and texture with stunning realism. Yet with all these steps forward, they continue to focus on stories full of heart, humor, and relatable characters – which is exactly what you can expect with Up. FULL REVIEW

Star Trek (2009)
Director: J. J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana
Running Time: 2 hrs. 7 min
Rated: PG-13

Review by Brother Reed

When I heard they were remaking Star Trek, or rebooting it, or whatever it was, I was none too pleased. The commercials came on advertising young upstarts who looked awkwardly unlike their 60’s series counterparts, lots of laser blasts and explosions, some sensual images to increase appeal, and Simon Pegg. Not that I have any real attachment to the original television show. My father likes it, but I always sort of respected it and not much more. I have never read a Star Trek book, and probably couldn’t tell you the names of the crew. If anything, I was more of a Next Generation guy, ‘cause they had Jean Luc and the guy from Reading Rainbow. FULL REVIEW