As a film, Godzilla is perfectly adequate. But that’s the nicest thing I can say about it. It’s always disappointing when a breakthrough director like Gareth Edwards catches the eye of a big studio only to be hired for rote product. Big blockbusters like this tend to swallow filmmakers whole and render them more or less anonymous (see also: J.J. Abrams‘s Star Trek, Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim). Edwards’s Monsters was a distinctive movie with real characters and story. His Godzilla is more expensive, but less of a movie. There’s nothing in it we haven’t seen a million times before.
Dir. Ben Affleck
(2012, R, 120 minutes)
Argo is the third film by Ben Affleck as a director, and it’s probably his best; Gone Baby Gone was an impressive debut, and The Town was a somewhat disappointing followup. This new film doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a taut, confidently made, straight-ahead thriller. It’s based on a true story, and generating suspense from documented events can be especially tricky – he’s building to an ending already in the history books – but Affleck succeeds.
Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
(2011, R, 100 min)
Drive does not star Vin Diesel or Paul Walker or gratuitous bikini models dancing in party scenes, as at least one viewer was disappointed to discover. The ads for the film were a bit misleading, suggesting a high-octane chase movie in order to get people into the theater – a similar marketing tactic rankled many viewers of George Clooney‘s The American last year – but having now seen the film, I don’t think the ads were patently dishonest; if this film represents an outrage for not being The Fast and the Furious, I think it says more about the viewer than the film.