Movie Reviews: Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Ma, Rocketman, Non-Fiction | Buzz Blog
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Movie Reviews: Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Ma, Rocketman, Non-Fiction


  • Warner Bros. Pictures
Godzilla: King of the Monsters  *1/2
There are people, I’m certain, for whom the idea of giant CGI beasts destroying real-looking cityscapes is more appealing than guys in rubber suits destroying obvious scale models—but I am not one of them. This direct follow-up to Gareth Edwards’ stylish 2014 Godzilla finds a pair of once-married, emotionally-scarred scientists (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) on opposite sides of a kaiju-riffic war for the future of the planet, with their daughter (Millie Bobby Brown) caught in the middle. Disaster movie tropes of the separated family abound, as does the now-omnipresent “villain whose motivation is that they believe our only salvation is killing a whole bunch of people.” But aside from the script full of boring people saying boring things, the real miscalculation here is believing that Godzilla, Rodan and friends make for a better movie when we understand that they’re inflicting real-world trauma on people. Guys in rubber suits crashing into one another is silly, but it’s fun. The mega-blockbuster approach to the Toho titans results in something dour, dark and tediously concerned with nothing more than building a franchise universe. Opens May 31 at theaters valleywide. (PG-13)—SR

Ma 1/2*
The cinematic efforts of men—here, director Tate Taylor and screenwriter Scotty Landes—to delve into the inner lives of women continue to fail abysmally, and in a particularly awful manner with Ma. Lonely Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) insinuates herself into the lives of local high-schoolers by buying them booze and letting them use her basement as a party den—then turns on them, for they are the children of the kids who were awful to her in her own high-school days. There’s no build-up of tension, no escalation of (misplaced) revenge, just a zero-to-60-in-two-seconds villainous turn for the “cool” adult the kids call “Ma.” The torture porn it becomes is horrible, as is the waste of an amazing cast, which also features Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Juliette Lewis and Missi Pyle. But worst of all is making Sue Ann as a crazy bitch whose revenge is wildly out of proportion to the crimes committed against her. Instead of honestly confronting how women cope—or don’t—with abuse, bullying and trauma, Ma dismisses a woman’s justifiable pain as extreme and unreasonable. Opens May 31 at theaters valleywide. (R)—MAJ

Non-Fiction ***
Built on the armature of something that could have played out as conventional bedroom farce, the latest from writer/director Olivier Assayas feels almost as much about fears of artistic obsolescence as his Clouds of Sils Maria. This time around, the milieu is the publishing industry, as publishing house editor Alain (Guillaume Canet) and novelist Léonard (Vincent Macaigne) wrestle with radical shifts in the material people read, and the ways in which they read it. Much discussion is devoted to the topic, even as Léonard carries on an affair with Alain’s actress wife (Juliette Binoche), and Alain has his own affair with his company’s “digital transition” hire (Christa Théret). Assayas effectively captures the pretensions of his characters, whose fretting over people no longer reading books plays out as mere personal anxiety over becoming irrelevant; one great bit finds the self-important Léonard changing the location of a sexual encounter from a movie theater showing The Force Awakens to one showing The White Ribbon. Behind all the high-minded talk, Assayas finds people finding it hard to face a world in which the legacy they want to leave might amount to nothing. Opens May 31 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (R)—Scott Renshaw

The Poison Rose
[not reviewed]
Film noir-inspired mystery about a private investigator (John Travolta) helping a woman in distress. Opens May 31 at Megaplex Gateway. (R)

Rocketman ***1/2
See feature review. Opens May 31 at theaters valleywide. (R)