Is 'Godzilla: King Of The Monsters' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IS 'BOMBASTIC EXCESS' A GOOD THING?

· Updated:

Michael Dougherty's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," out May 31, is a sequel to Gareth Edwards' 2014 reboot of the world's favorite kaiju franchise. It brings a handful of classic "Godzilla" series second-string monsters — Mothra, Ghidorah and Rodan — into the picture ahead of next year's showdown with King Kong. Is it a fun time at the movies, or massive misstep for Warner's already-questionable MonsterVerse? Here's what the reviews have to say:

There's Some Human-Scale Drama And A Monster-Hailing MacGuffin Driving The Plot When The Kajiu Aren't Fighting

Picking up five years after the events of Edwards' movie, the world has seen the rise of "titans", monsters like Godzilla who are being tracked by the organization Monarch, which is currently in conflict with the military that wants to eradicate the titans rather than co-exist with them.

[Collider]

The key to that might well be the "Orca", a communications device created by Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) that can tap into the Titans' bio-acoustics and send friendly signals. But when she and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) are kidnapped by a group of eco-terrorists (led by Charles Dance), Monarch brings in former Titan scientist — and Emma's ex-husband — Mark (Kyle Chandler) to get them back.

[Consequence of Sound]


Is Godzilla Good, Or Just Good Relative To The Other Monsters On The Loose? The Movie Doesn't Seem Sure

Godzilla may be a monster, but he is much less of a threat to the planet than several of his fellow monsters, or indeed than the more monstrous of the human players. He is massive and relentless, constantly adapting and evolving, but also a conservative guardian of the ecosystemic status quo. He is also our monster – in a surreal xenophobic touch, it turns out that local leviathans are more welcome than alien abominations (even when the latter migrated here multiple millennia ago).

[Little White Lies]

The film's inability to decide whether Godzilla is a guardian angel or an uncaring, almost deist supreme being zaps the franchise of its captivating, humbling depiction of humans being insignificant compared to the powerful might of Earth's self-persevering whims.

[Slant]


Godzilla's Fellow 'Titans' Leave A Lot To Be Desired

Rodan seems to be the only other one who gets to express a discernible personality (he's a delicious bastard), while Ghidorah spends too much time as a bland baddie and Mothra gets too little to do altogether. Most of the creatures invariably take a nap in the middle of the movie, whether through the exhaustion of battle or sheer boredom, and it's tempting to not want to do the same in the film's more languid second act.

[Consequence of Sound]

Despite fleeting moments of beauty, King Of The Monsters largely fails to conjure any sense of awe about its creatures, with the sole exception of the ethereal Mothra.

[Empire]

There's also an impressive selection of lesser behemoths, but most of them appear during understandably panicked newscasts that appear to be filmed through Vaseline.

[IndieWire]

The Movie Isn't *Not* About Climate Change — But Also, It's A Little Too Nuke-Ambivalent For A Godzilla Film

The theory, already proffered in the franchise's earlier entries, that these behemoths have long existed to bring balance to the world, is here more fully explored, as their epic battles are made to allegorise and embody the cataclysmic upheavals of nature that manmade climate change is bringing to us all.

[Little White Lies]

Despite the occasional fan-pleasing plot nod to the original 1954 Godzilla, King Of The Monsters has a glib attitude to nuclear weapons that feels particularly galling considering the creature's infamous H-bomb subtext, with a seemingly nihilistic outlook that revels in the razing of civilisation and casts the one person concerned about global warming as a crazed radical scientist.

[Empire]

The Actors Are Hurting For Good Material Here…

Dougherty and co-writer Zach Shields attempt to center the story around the Spielbergian angle of a broken family on each side of the conflict — Mark wants to kill the things, Emma wants to set them free to reclaim the Earth, with Madison stuck in the middle — but they're all given so little to do amongst the kaiju chaos. Early trailers indicated that Brown's Maddie would be more of a central character, but she's largely sidelined until the final act. This isn't to say that summer monster movies should also be trenchant family melodramas, but King of the Monsters really drops the ball with its potentially intriguing central dynamic.

[Consequence of Sound]

You may get a bright spot like Bradley Whitford as a surly scientist or Ken Watanabe adding a bit of gravitas, but then you also have some really idiotic twists to move the plot along and it makes the whole enterprise feel like a cynical attempt to keep the Godzilla franchise going without any real care or attention to anything beyond kaiju fights. Some may argue you don't need more than that, but Godzilla: King of the Monsters proves that you do.

[Collider]


… To The Point Where It All Distracts From The Kaiju

None of [the plot] makes sense. I don't even think it's trying to make sense. In reality, this is all just an excuse for the filmmakers to have a lot of monsters on the screen at the same time. And, sure, I get that's the end goal in a movie like this. But it would have been great if a little more thought had gone into the whole thing.

[UPROXX]

The human characters (and I'm using the word "characters" loosely) are flavorless afterthoughts, spouting unintentionally laughable dialogue designed to do nothing more than move the risible plot from point A to point B.

[Entertainment Weekly]

The staggeringly poor script merely has everyone standing around and explaining the plot and their personal motivations to one another in dialogue so clichéd that it goes far beyond winking B-movie pastiche. When characters aren't spouting dramatically inert Monarch-centric exposition that only exists to establish Wikipedia-dump franchise lore, they're somehow mysteriously guessing Godzilla's own intentions.

[Empire]


For All The Blockbuster Moments In The Movie…

The film blends bombastic excess and deadpan silliness in a way that recalls late '90s action films of the Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich school. (Think: a machine-gun wielding grunt muttering, "Oh, shit," just before a massive CGI explosion sends bodies and helicopters flying in all directions.)

[AV Club]

In terms of sheer, chaotic spectacle, King of the Monsters is the closest an American Godzilla film has come to the campy fun of Toho's '70s output. Titans slap each other around like they're in a WWE Inferno match, exchange energy blasts, and gleefully engage in an entire GDP's worth of property damage.

[Consequence of Sound]

There's a nightmarish beauty to these battles that epitomizes a nihilism buried under the more sentimental heroics with which Godzilla has been saddled.

[Slant]

… 'King Of The Monsters' Suffers From Too Much Hard-To-See, Ultimately Numbing Monster Mayhem

People see the ending to 2014's Godzilla and wonder, well, if I felt that rush at the end of the movie, why can't I feel that rush during the whole movie? Why can't I just feel the nice thing all the time! It's because our bodies don't work that way. When a movie is just nonstop monster action, guess what happens? It all becomes the new "normal" and it becomes boring. And this is the approach Godzilla: King of the Monsters takes.

[UPROXX]

For the most part the action sequences are lost in shaky cameras and jittery editing, with the first key set-piece taking place in a storm that renders everything genuinely incoherent. When the final smackdown between Godzilla and Ghidorah comes, the result is an overload of repetitive, joyless destruction that mistakes volume and demolition for actual excitement.

[Empire]

If you thought you couldn't make out what was happening during The Battle of Winterfell, prepare thyself for an entire film built on the concept that, when giant monsters battle each other, they actually create tropical storms, gusting rain, and a baffling amount of cloud cover.

[IndieWire]

TL;DR

Reviewing the 2014 franchise launcher, I wrote that Godzilla felt like two movies Scotch-taped together. One with the cast of Hollywood actors trying to keep a straight face and the other with mammoth CG beasts knocking the snot out of one another. The same is true here – only more so.

[Entertainment Weekly]


Watch The Trailer

 

<p>Mathew Olson is an Associate Editor at Digg.</p>

Is The Seth Rogen Comedy 'An American Pickle' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IN A REAL PICKLE HERE

Digg · Updated:

The movie, which streams on HBO Max on August 6, has an enticing premise: a man gets preserved in a jar in the early 20th century and wakes up 100 years later in contemporary Brooklyn. But does the movie itself live up to its zany plot? Here's what the reviews say.


Seth Rogen Plays Two Men, Herschel Greenbaum, A Man Who Wakes Up After 100 Years In A Pickle Vat, And Greenbaum's Great-Grandson, Ben

An Eastern European labourer named Herschel (Seth Rogen) arrives in America, only to be pickled for 100 years in a factory accident. He awakes in 2020, and moves in with his only surviving relative: great-grandson Ben (also Rogen). Things are going swimmingly — until Herschel wrecks Ben's business, leading to a vengeful game of oneupmanship.

[Empire]

While Hershel is low-key confounded by these modern times (what with interracial dating, women's rights, and the high cost of produce), he is most perplexed by his descendant's priorities. Ben doesn't observe Jewish religious traditions and hasn't visited the family graves in years. He has no wife, no children, and no career that Herschel can comprehend. So tensions rise. In no time at all, the pair declare each other enemies. Herschel strikes out on his own with a pickle cart with wares pulled freegan-style from dumpster diving. Meanwhile, Ben stews over how to ruin his eccentric great-grandfather.

[IGN]


The Movie Probes Into Issues Of Jewish Immigration Identity — Though Perhaps Not Deeply Enough

In its best moments, An American Pickle knows how to thread the needle between fish-out-of-water comedy and retaining a thoughtful look at Jewish ancestry in America, but those moments are few and far between […] Every time the movie has a chance to go deeper, whether it's with immigration or legacy or American comfort or Judaism, An American Pickle skims the surface and moves on.

[Collider]

Made in the midst of a resurgence in blatant anti-Semitism across the US, it's a strange choice for "An American Pickle" to reveal that Herschel's greatest backlash comes from...violent Christians? The movie sidesteps the most alarming aspect of Jewish persecution — its resurgence in public over the last four years — and never even gives Herschel a chance to learn about the Holocaust.

[IndieWire]


As A Comedy, It Sometimes Falls Flat In Delivering Laughs

There are some scattered laughs but it's not particularly funny, and "American Pickle" […] is generally all over the place, aiming to be an abstract comedy about family and religion but losing its way trying to also poke fun at modern culture.

[USA Today]

 [T]he film fails to build its laughs into substantial comic momentum, or even construct many substantial scenes. (Tellingly, one of its funniest is a mid-credits bonus.) As it progresses, the material feels more and more like a series of slightly amusing paragraphs, with sentimentality wedged uncomfortably between flights of satirical whimsy.

[The AV Club]

There are laughs along the way with Herschel and Ben's mirror-image intergenerational, culture-clash roommate bromance. But, inevitably, as with so much high-concept comedy, the real laughs, the ones built on detachment, self-aware flippancy and cynicism, come at the beginning, with the establishment of the premise.

[The Guardian]


The Story's Emotional Beats, However, Manage To Shine Through

 Despite the acrimoniousness of their split, you root for their inevitable reconciliation, which closes the movie on a warm note […] "An American Pickle" is neither the most substantial nor the most sophisticated comedy, but its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

It may not always succeed as a comedy but as a drama, this is the real dill. Part time-travelling family drama, part idiosyncratic immigrant-adventure comedy, "An American Pickle"'s gags underwhelm, but its emotion and originality will surprise you.

[Empire]

[T]he thread of leaning on family to process grief is touching, and Rogen manages to make Herschel and Ben's longing to connect feel real. The movie is frequently funny, sometimes sweet, and never particularly deep, but it does have a uniquely odd relationship to time that gives it a peculiar extra layer. Call it the proprietary brine.

[Wired]


And Rogen's Charisma Helps To Keep The Audience Entertained, Even When The Rest Of The Movie Falters

[I]t's enjoyable enough to watch the actor single-handedly rescue the high concept surrounding him.

[IndieWire]

Rogen is an always likable actor whose reputation was built largely on playing crude, sophomoric stoners. But there's an inherent sweetness in his screen persona that's been there since the very beginning on "Freaks and Geeks," notably in the affecting story arc in which his befuddled character, Ken Miller, struggled with the revelation of his tuba-playing girlfriend Amy's intersex birth origins. It's a variation on Ken — the tender, passionate bear of a guy occasionally stymied by his blind spots — that steers "An American Pickle" through its narrative rough patches.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


TL; DR

Nothing in "American Pickle" can match the silly storybook fantasy of its opening moments, but they do a good job of getting us hooked. 

[IndieWire]


Watch The Trailer Here


Is The Google Pixel 4A Worth It? Here's What The Reviews Say
NOT PHONING IT IN

Digg · Updated:

The Pixel 4A, which will be released on August 20, is incredibly affordable at $349, but can it compete with other smartphones? Here's what the reviews say.


The Best Feature Of The Phone Is The Camera

[W]hen it comes to photos, the Pixel 4A goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 — and often wins.

[The Verge]

There is no distinguishable difference between the $350 Pixel 4a's and the Pixel 4's camera, a phone that starts at $800. That's incredible, and if you like your photos to look good, it's a major reason why the Pixel 4a should be at the very, very top of your list. 

[Business Insider]


Design-Wise, It's Not The Flashiest Phone

The Pixel has always been a phone that felt a lot nicer than it looked — it's not the most stylish. The Pixel 4a's design is even more basic than ever, though. It comes in Just Black and... that's it. There are no other sizes available, either. Keeping to one size and color was part of Google's strategy to reduce production costs. 

[Engadget]

The word I use most often to describe Pixel hardware is "unassuming." It's basic: no frills, no fanciness, just an easy-to-hold phone without any embellishments. It's a little boring, but at least it isn't tacky.

[The Verge]


But Helpful Software Features Like Live Captioning Might Be Drawing Points For Users

Google's software tends to make up for its basic hardware, and as usual, the company has some helpful tools that make the Pixel experience better than any other Android phone. Most of these have already been announced, like its personal safety and car crash detection feature, Google Docs integration for the Recorder app, as well as adaptive battery management. With the Pixel 4a, though, Google is bringing its Live Caption feature to calls.

[Engadget]

I like Google's bonus software features that it includes on Pixel phones. The voice recorder app is able to transcribe text, for example, and accurately transcribed about 90% of my interview with Google during a Pixel 4a briefing. It just saves me a ton of time that I'd otherwise spend trying to jot everything down. Other unique software features include crash detection, which can automatically call 911 if you get in a car accident.

[CNBC]


The Performance Of The Phone Is Generally Fine, Though It Can Be Slow Sometimes

The Pixel 4a has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's fine and fast enough to keep the phone running smoothly. There are a few hiccups at times, though. I noticed it would stutter while scrolling through long lists, like in Twitter, but that problem generally resolved itself after a few days. Google was aware of this, too, and it may just be that it takes some time for things to store inside the phone's memory.

[CNBC]

Anecdotally, the phone works quickly with most tasks. Unlocking the screen with my fingerprint, launching Assistant and opening apps went off without a hitch. But the Pixel 4A isn't the smoothest phone I handled. After I downloaded Call of Duty and PUBG, I had to restart the phone because both apps stalled while loading.

[CNET]


Some Of The Phone's Drawbacks Are Its Lack Of Wireless Charging And Waterproofness

Google left out one big feature that does matter: water resistance. That would save a phone that was accidentally dunked in a toilet or left out in a storm. So it was disappointing not to have it because durability was another feature that people wanted most in their smartphones.

[The New York Times]

This phone doesn't have some of the premium flourishes, like wireless charging, water resistance, a triple-lens camera, or 5G connectivity. But, it gets the core features so right that those extra flourishes seem irrelevant. 

[Business Insider]


Most Importantly Though, The Phone Is A Great Bargain With Its Cheap Price

The Pixel 4A is about $50 cheaper than its closest competitors and has 128GB of storage, instead of 64GB like years past, so it really is a solid value. And these days, any amount of money that can be saved is crucial.

[CNET]

The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it's a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

[The New York Times]


TL; DR

The Pixel 4A is cheap and basic, but most cheap phones don't get the basics right. The Pixel 4A does. And just to remind you: it does so for $349.

[The Verge]


You can pre-order the Pixel 4A at Google Store and BestBuy. And if you're interested in buying a Pixel 4, you can buy one here.


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