Bru’s Reviews: GODZILLA IS GREAT…WHEN HE FINALLY SHOWS UP May 19, 2014 – Posted in: Blog, Bru's Reviews, Featured Columns
All original written content is (c) 2014 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: World’s greatest giant monster–and Japan’s greatest export–gets his second US reboot: GODZILLA. There’s radioactivity a-brewing in Japan which awakens something huge, which demands something “huger” to battle it. Eventually.
Written by Max Borenstein (Story by Dave Callaham); Directed by Gareth Edwards.
- Amazing, astounding, awesome, take yer pick of adjectives–they all describe how well the film is able to get across the sense of scale of the creatures, buildings and people. [MIKE: This is due to a brilliant combination of cinematography, POV shots, camera angles and movements all expertly coordinated.] What movie-boy means is that it’s a lot more impressive than the plastic model cities and props in the old Japanese flicks!
- [MIKE: Some visual effects were by John Dykstra of STAR WARS fame, father of HEROES OF COSPLAY star Chloe Dykstra.]
- A bit of nostalgia/nod to the old movies here and there. (Quick looks: a poster in the kid’s bedroom in the opening, a “Mothra” reference on an empty aquarium. Sneeze and you may miss ’em.)
- Excellent job on “Gojira” himself. Enough of the original design to be familiar, but updated enough to be believable. Movement was spectacular–the “coolness” of the slower-motion guy-in-a-suit in the old stuff combined with state-of-the-art CG surfacing and form. He’s more badass looking, of course. Lots more.
- The way they handled the breathing fire thing (especially how he gears up for it) was awesome.
- Plenty of human drama and family stuff, if you’re into that. (If not, there’s too much.) Good sense of what happens to the innocents and military on the ground.
- Story and plot actually make sense in the context of the film. Especially explanations of the old atomic bomb tests!
- Parts were shot in Japan, San Francisco and Nevada so it appears more authentic. The way they did the CG on Vegas was superb.
- Younger sister of the Olsen Twins plays Brody’s wife. A “pro” if you’re a fan, I guess. (But she plays a believable, concerned Mom.) Supposed to also play Scarlet Witch in the next AVENGERS flick. Better than being in rehab! No nudity, tho. (Rated PG-13 for language and gun violence, I’m guessing. All G to me.)
- The giant monsters (“MUTO” or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms–the Japanese term “kaiju” was hardly used if at all) were handled well, including their behavior and interaction. Climactic fight scene was a lot of fun. (When was the last time you were in a theater where everyone applauded at the end of a battle scene rather than the end of the film?) If yer a giant monster fan, you will really get into it!
- Great job of building suspense. Takes forever to see the Big Guy, but when you do, it’s maximum impressiveness. You’ll relish every bit of time he’s onscreen. (Like going to a buffet when you’re starving and only getting fed a few morsels every fifteen minutes.)
- That last pro is also a con. If I’d known that there’s basically ONE major monster battle in the whole frigggin’ flick, I would have liked it more. (Okay, technically there’s two, but the first is more of a “pre-fight” and is in close proximity to the second, both near the end of the film.) Know that going in and you’ll better appreciate when the monsters show up.
- The only actor to get less screen time than Godzilla is Bryan Cranston (BREAKING BAD). The previews make you think he’s the main dude, but he catches a cab around the halfway mark.
- Nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan is a bit unnerving so soon after the Fukushima debacle. (I can only imagine it would be more so for a Japanese audience.)
- Spoilers in the trailers are bad enough (as mentioned in my AMAZING SPIDER-MAN review); but having Godzilla in a bunch of TV commercials before the release? And we don’t see his face till about halfway thru the film? NOT cool.
- This could have been titled, LIEUTENANT BRODY EVENTUALLY MEETS GODZILLA. Most of the tale is about Crantson’s son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) understanding his dad, getting back to his family, his battles, heroism, redemption and all that kinda “human interest” crap that film school teachers and critics say is important…but really isn’t. If you’re watching a GIANT MONSTER movie, wouldn’t you rather see GIANT MONSTERS maybe? Just guessin’.
- My only nitpicks on Godzilla were:
1) His eyes could have been bigger (though corny by today’s standards, the Japanese creature’s eyes were a major part of his personality and identification). Though I’m glad he doesn’t have the “cat face” of the 60s, the eyes just aren’t as emotional. (Saying this version is better than the 1998 one is like saying today’s Captain America is better than the TV version of the 80s!)
2) The roar! That’s a trademark. Been pretty much unchanged since the 1960s. It’s two parts–the inital “Eeehnn!” and the ending “Errrunt!” ramp up. Gotta have both to be Godzilla. They nailed the first part, but they stretched out the roar two or three times longer than normal, and changed the end part so it’s not as cool. WHY? All they had to do was beef up the original and it would have worked fine. And NO, it ain’t ’cause I’m old or nostalgic or nothin’…The reason is because it freakin’ works. Ever hear of “new Coke”? Changed the formula after more than half a century. How’d that work out?
- There are a couple eye-contact shots between monster and person that some may find a stretch. (When was the last time you made eye contact with a bee or a grasshopper?)
- A good twenty minutes could have been cut from the people stuff and substituted with more monsters.
I saw this in IMAX 3D. Is it worth 20 bucks? Frankly, no movie is (unless it includes free beer and popcorn). But if you’re like me and spring on the full monte once or twice a year, this is a good choice. Definitely takes advantage of the scope and scale, and the 3D is done well. But you’ll want the DVD to see all the special features, and especially to pause every one of the opening credits to see what was “redacted”. Plus watch all the monster shots in slo-mo to see all the cool moves and effects. So go see it already!
P.S.: Pascale started out drawing Godzilla when he was just a kid, after seeing the big dino on the 4 O’clock movie back in Detroit (he was in Heaven during “Godzilla Week”). Good thing is, he’s actually gotten better since then. So a COMMISSION would be a great idea–AND at a great price. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, Tojo Pictures, Warner Brothers, Gojira, giant monsters or the nation of Japan. He has never put on a rubber suit and crushed toy tanks. But he has crushed beer cans while in his birthday suit!