Friday, June 6, 2014

My Thoughts on "Godzilla"

Godzilla (2014)
"What a promising start to a movie that seemed to just get worse and worse."
Overall: 3/10
            This review is Spoiler-tastic.
            "Godzilla" combines the worst aspects of "Pacific Rim" and "Man of Steel".
            It is actually so close in tone, theme, and visuals to "Man of Steel" that it kind of pisses me off.  There are scenes that seem to line up, and character roles that parallel to stupefying levels.  Instead of a 20 minute opening on Krypton, we have a 20 minute opening next to a terminal nuclear reactor.  Instead of Pa Kent dying in a silly way, we have Bryan Cranston dying in an anti-climactic way (he had up till this point been the main character, and the only one acting to any measurable degree).  The role of Clark Kent is given to Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who gets no good lines, and no character traits beyond plot useful skill set, criminally wasting the actor).  Lois Lane is replaced with Elizabeth Olsen (another actor who is put to zero use, she could be cut out of the movie entirely and it would make things better.... Just like Lois Lane really).
            Dozens of military personnel firing meaninglessly at indestructible monsters replaces military personal firing at Kryptonians... Though the Kryptonians had personality, motivation, tactics, and acknowledged the presence of humans.  Then you have David Stratheirn (Admiral), RichardT. Jones (Captain), and Ken Watanabe (Scientist) taking the place of Superman's supporting cast Harry Lenix (General), Christopher Meloni (Colonel), and Richard Schiff (Scientist).  And taking the Superman's role of vaguely heroic destructive force for good(?) is Godzilla, a vaguely heroic destructive force for good(?)... I'm not kidding, the scenes of Godzilla swimming in formation with the Navy is comparable to Superman learning to fly, and the exploration of the massive caverns analogous to finding various Kryptonian ships.

Come on, this framing of a civilization in collapse before the awesome power of nature has the protagonist on the other side of the screen.
            There is a scene in which Lt Aaron Taylor Johnson torches the eggs of the monsters who Godzilla is fighting, immediately followed by the giant monster seeing her destroyed nest and sad music plays, like we are supposed to feel bad for the monster that has caused the deaths of thousands and whose brood would have killed billions... Kind of like how Zod was seen as more sympathetic once Superman blew up the Kryptonian nursery ship.  The monster then goes berserk and fights harder against Godzilla, like Zod fought harder against Superman.

"Krypton HAD IT'S CHANCE!"
Maybe we should do something about this guys?  Guys?
Though in complete Fairness, they both stole the image from "The Matrix".
            Let me shift gears and talk about how it resembles the problems with "Pacific Rim".  "Pacific Rim" is retarded as hell.  Mecha is the most stylized and preposterous thing in popular science fiction.  In real life mecha would not function because of how physics works, drones with rockets would work a hundred thousand times better and be much, much cheaper.  Its why the modern Navy flies more planes then it has Dreadnaughts and Battleships.  But that movie wears its stupidity like a badge of honor, it is about giant robots and monsters.  Once you accept that planes do nothing, they stop having planes in the movie, you don't see useless crap being useless... Unlike in "Godzilla" where the military just keeps shooting useless crap at the monsters who barely perceive it.

            "Pacific Rim" plays the goofy concept, with characters that are one note, but memorable.  You remember the Russian team with the blonde hair, that the Chinese team was triplets, that the Australians were a father son duo, the main operator wore a bow tie, and each of the scientists had either the trait of sniveling or reckless, and much like "The Avengers" a put upon Black guy was in charge and being talked down to by a criminally stupid budgetary committee.  Everyone looked different enough so that you could appreciate them, get a sense of them, and say something to the effect of, "Ah, now he's dead... That's too bad."  (Charlie Hunnam looked a bit too much like the Australian pilot, but whatever).

This is a weird part, because it is one of the few times Godzilla could easily avoid plowing thru something and he does anyway.  Normally he dives under them (ships), or is unable to move around without wrecking things (buildings).
Wait a minute... Is a 60 year old franchise lifting from a movie that came out last year?  This can't just be a random parallel creative moment.  They're identical.
            "Godzilla" is so pretentious and does not even have the good sense to hide its stupidity while being so.  For instance, the monsters emit EMP's which shut down electronics, which the movie demonstrates as causing jets to crash.... SO WHY DO THEY KEEP DEPLOYING JETS AT ALL?  All they do is drop out of the air and accomplish nothing, so just stop launching them.  "Pacific Rim" said conventional weapons were useless, so you don't see useless conventional weapons being meaninglessly hurled against the Kaiju.  Guns are shown to be meaningless in Godzilla and totally ineffective.  Thousands of M-16 rounds are fired along with numerous blasts from tanks and ships... WHY DO THEY EVEN GIVE SOLDIERS RIFLES IN THIS?  In the later part of the movie you see soldiers in vests carrying rifles while on a mission to disarm a bomb... What do they need the guns for?  The armor slows them down and does nothing else; when the 70,000 ton titan steps on you the vest won't help.
             Let me complain about something else.  In the middle of the movie Godzilla is about to attack one of the monsters in Honolulu, and it is shaping up to be awesome.  It hard cuts to a child sitting on a couch watching the fight happen on the news.  Fuck you movie.  It was such an insulting cock tease that I gestured at the screen and began laughing in the most dismissive tone I have ever heard from myself.
            Then there are issues with sound design.  Godzilla only makes noise some of the time even though he should sound like a freaking avalanche with every step.  There are multiple instances of him sneaking up on the other monsters, including when he kills the big monster at the very end of the movie.  Monster staring at human hero... and then BAM!  Godzilla-ed.  Fuck you.  The other monster does this too in the middle of the movie to a train transporting nukes.  It just appears in the darkness and the two humans hide on this bridge, like the monster is going to attack them... Which makes no sense because it never shows any interest in humans.  It does not eat humans, it eats radiation... which I am actually fine with.  Though that adds another issue that humans become meaningless to the story, the only thing humans manage to stop is a bomb they stupidly set up to kill the monsters.  Humans are irrelevant in this story, and actively hurt themselves in their own confusion.
            Music is also an issue.  Like I mentioned above the scene in which the humans manage to destroy the nest sad music plays for the monster.  I'm sorry movie, I stopped empathizing with the giant monsters an hour ago when they destroyed Vegas and that they seem to be pretty much incapable of perceiving humans as little more than insects... I don't feel sad for them.  AT ALL.  I laughed my ass off at that.  I can compare this to a Godzilla movie that already exists, "Godzilla Final Wars" which I hated at the time for its poor pacing (and that is still an issue) but Jesus did it at least have some levity.  The music in it is rock and roll as the atomic breath vaporizes lesser monsters.  There is no moody orchestral... THERE IS ONLY ROCK.
            It also has a "The Dark Knight Rises" issue with the ending, sending a multi megaton nuke out to sea on a fishing boat.  A nuke they were hoping to fire off 30 miles from the city to avoid fall out.  But it is still in the San Francisco Bay with only 2 minutes left on the timer... unless that fishing boat can go 900 miles an hour everyone who isn't dead in San Francisco is going to have cancer next week.

So is he laying on his tummy in the water here?  Cause he is so big he should not be at all underwater this close to an island.
            There are no jokes, no sense of adventure, it is a joyless, colorless slog.  There is a giant atomic dragon on screen and none of the soldiers give so much as a "HELL YEAH!"  While trying to save the city from a nuclear blast.  This actually makes me look back of "Transformers" forlornly.  In "Transformers" the soldiers fight a giant killer robot in a middle eastern village only managing to repel it with devastating levels of air support.  A great scene, made better by the soldiers having personalities, and managing to be jokey and having a sense of adventure while fighting the giant robot scorpion.  Hell even in "Man of Steel" there are jokes and upbeat tone moments: like Superman destroying a big rig, Lois escaping from Zod's ship, or the "I think he's kind of hot" comment at the end.  I can't quote a line from "Godzilla" that wasn't said with a tone of grim resolution.
            In summation, it is dumber than "Pacific Rim", more joyless than "Man of Steel", and lacks a sense of urgency or fun that leaves it boring.  I kind of hated this movie.
            I had no expectations, how did they fail to meet them?

Whatever... It was never High Art.

No comments:

Post a Comment