Weekend Movies: Better Alert the INS

The third weekend of summer brings us a trio of new movies about foreigners immigrating to America. One of them brings new meaning to the term “Green Card.”

This biggest release, literally, is the new American reboot of the ‘Godzilla‘ franchise. Although full of highly contrived story points, this one is far better than Roland Emmerich’s 1998 disaster. From the director of ‘Monsters‘, our new ‘Godzilla’ begins in the late 1990s as earthquakes threaten a Japanese nuclear plant with a meltdown. We follow Bryan Cranston and family through an intense intro, after which we jump to present day. At that point, the movie gets handed over to Aaron “Kick-Ass” Taylor-Johnson. (I figure since he recently added the “Taylor” to his last name that I’d give him a meaningful middle name.) From the moment he, a military bomb expert, returns to Japan to help his father, he cannot steer clear of the destructive path of 300-foot-tall monsters. Taylor-Johnson may be emotionally flat, but Godzilla himself is a very engaging fun to watch. ‘Godzilla’ co-stars the wonderful Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe. Check it out in IMAX 3D, standard 3D or 2D – but note that if you see it in IMAX, you’ll have to sit through a loud geektastic Godzilla-themed vanity reel prior to the show.

The other wide release this weekend is Disney’s by-the-book PG-rated sports drama ‘Million Dollar Arm‘. Based on a true story (aren’t they all?), always-scruffy Jon Hamm plays a family-friendly ‘Jerry Maguire’ who has left a prestigious sports talent firm to start his own, but is on the brink of losing it. With no prospective talent in sight, he reaches for one last gimmick that just might pay off. After finding an investor, he heads to India to host a competition called “Million Dollar Arm” with the hopes that it will turn a cricket player into a Major League Baseball pitcher. Stars of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Life of Pi’ play the leading Indian contenders, and Lake Bell co-stars as Hamm’s tenant. If you love Disney’s other generic sports movies like ‘The Rookie‘, ‘Secretariat‘ or ‘Invincible‘, then ‘Million Dollar Arm’ should be right up your alley.

The talented Marion Cotillard stars in the Weinstein Company’s latest limited release. Debuting on three screens, ‘The Immigrant‘ tells the story of an innocent woman looking for a new life in America with her sister. When her sister is immediately returned to Europe, Cotillard is left helplessly alone in Manhattan. A charming stranger played by Joaquin Phoenix takes her under his wing, only to turn her into a prostitute. Jeremy Renner plays Phoenix’s business partner who’s willing to fight to give her a better life, the life that she deserves and thought she was getting. I’ve only seen the trailers, but ‘The Immigrant’ looks promising.

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