Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ten Statements About....GODZILLA (2014)

“The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight."

1) While I think the script by Max Borenstein (based on a story by David Callaham) has some serious flaws we’ll get to later, I give it credit for finding a new angle to approach a giant monster movie.  By focusing on the military and its mission to contain these creatures, there’s a decidedly different flavor.

2) But then, the film keeps wandering away from the military operation and the monster mayhem to try and persuade us that the family headed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Ford and Elisabeth Olsen’s Elle is far more compelling than anything else in the film....and maybe it’s Taylor-Johnson’s limited ability as an actor, or maybe it’s the film giving us a far more interesting relationship--namely the one between Ford and his father, Bryan Cranston’s Joe--that’s written off somewhere in the first act, but the usage of this family drama as one of the main thread doesn’t work.

3) And while we’re on the subject of Elisabeth Olsen, she is criminally underused given how talented she is.  Especially given that, judging from the scrubs she is frequently attired in, she’s a medical professional and can be utilized quite easily in the monster mayhem scenes.

4) Okay....who let the Cloverfield monster and her bewinged boyfriend into this movie?
"It must be an egg sack...why else is it so phallic?"

5) Here’s the thing--for a film about Godzilla, there’s not a lot, you know, Godzilla in it.  I’m cool with him showing up as this mystery figure in the first act, but it’s odd how little we actually see of him.  His lack of screen time is even more obvious when compared to the amount of screen time the Cloverfields have.

6) Not sure how I feel about the new Godzilla design, which seems to err too much on the side of making the King of The Monsters more ‘realistic.’  It’s certainly recognizable as being based on the Godzilla of the first handful of films, but he seems
"Weeeeeeeee!  I can fly.  You hear me?  I CAN FLY!"

7) You wanna know why I hooted and hollered when Godzilla first uses his beam weapon?  Because it’s masterfully built up the stunned reactions of the onlooker punch home the fact that This Is A Big Thing.

8) I do not understand why a number of monster fights are not shown ‘live’ but as news broadcasts in the background.  Those news broadcasts aren’t even given prominence; they’re used as literal window dressing for scenes of Elle fretting about her husband and caring for her son.  It’s another way director Gareth Edwards seems to delight in withholding the money shots from us.

9) I find it fascinating that for almost the entire film’s run, Godzilla is treated as a positive influence on the world.  Outside of some cryptic comments from Ken Wantabe’s Dr. Serizawa, Godzilla is looked upon as Earth’s defender, not as a force of nature which may cause untold damage if the world doesn’t get out of the way.  Hell, he even has people applauding and calling the big guy The King Of The Monsters as he heads back out to sea.

10) I wonder why a number of actors--primarily Olsen and Ken Wantanabe --are really here.  We’re here to see monsters and I understand that we need to have people in the movie to look at people and go ‘wow, that’s a big monster.’  But is using such name actors necessary?  Why not cast hungry newcomers?

Overall...even though it is a better film, I am amazed at how much this film commits the same sins as the 1998 version....not the least of it being it needs more monster.

Another trip to Atlas Park, fortunately timed so that I missed the accursed Firstlook entirely.  Not a lot of interesting trailers; the best probably being for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, a science fiction film that seems very un-Nolan-like.

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