Now, unlike the majority of the internet loving movie masses, it seems I have not seen old Godzilla films outside of the one with Puff Daddy and the destruction of Madison Square Garden. So, other than toys and old film posters, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what the true Godzilla was supposed to look like on the big screen, or how the films really play out. Sure, you go in expecting a giant lizard stomping through a city, but what I witnessed was one of the most badass looking monsters I have seen on the big screen in a very long time cause pure havoc.
I should preface this write up by saying that I had watched all the trailers in the lead up, as after seeing the teaser trailer it was hard not to be sold as it looked dark and beautiful. However, by the time trailer #2 came around, what I thought the movie was going to be about took a sudden turn as a gigantic winged monster known as a MUTO appeared in the trailer. Don’t get me wrong, I was a big fan of the “King of the Monsters” game on Arcade, and loved that there was more monsters than just Godzilla. But you know what would have been awesome? Not knowing that before I sat down. This was a major plot twist from what I was expecting, and while not at the spoiler level as say a trailer telling me “Bruce Willis was actually a ghost”, it certainly took away from my experience … and from what I have read online, I am not the only one who thinks so.
So after watching the final released trailer, I knew that this movie is obviously about monsters beating on each other while the humans sort of looked on like knobs, and tried in vain to kill everything rather than sit back with a box of popcorn and enjoy the best fist fight since Peter Griffin took on the Chicken. With Breaking Bad being heralded as the best thing on TV, Walter White and Jesse seem to be able to get starring roles in whatever they want at the moment. And, to be honest, while not at the level of Steven Segal in Executive Decision, Bryan Cranston didn’t stick around all that long. Furthermore, the whole storyline with the family just got in the way of monsters fighting. By the three quarter mark of the film I was more emotionally invested in the MUTO’s relationship than I was in the reuniting family. For a movie filled with giant monsters, the corniest aspect was the human element and their over the top stereotypes.
To what I’m sure is the ire of fictional insurance companies, cities seem to be getting destroyed at an alarming rate in movies at the moment and it’s no longer the traditional asteroid or “insert here” natural disaster you have to watch out for; it’s Superman and Zod, and the Jaegers and whatever the monsters were in Pacific Rim that are laying waste to city blocks. What makes Godzilla stand out from these other 2 movies, and Pacific Rim is the closest in comparison, is that the destruction is both beautifully done both from a micro and a macro view. There is no comedy in this destruction, it’s diverse, blatant and artfully done. I did laugh though when after all was said and done, Godzilla was left standing tall with arm raised getting ready for the inevitable sequel, the humans were praising him as “King of the Monsters” … lest we forget all the shit that just got destroyed and the millions dead. Oh and one person I saw the film with made a comment that the saddest part was the realisation that they had just destroyed his 2 favourite party locations, Hawaii and Las Vegas.
There is a lot to like about this movie. As it sits nicely atop the box office charts and has been for the most part warmly embraced and not shitcanned by the internet, it seems obvious this outing by Warner Bros has seen a successful revamp in the franchise. The cinematography is gorgeous in so many areas; a standout scene would have to be the halo drop towards the end of the film. And thankyou, just thankyou so very much, for making a film where the 3D was used in subtle ways to enhance scenes instead of being tacky and over the top. For the most part I try and avoid movies in 3D, however sitting and watching the ash fall around people as they stand in the ruins of fallen buildings with the soft soundtrack playing in the background was both subtle and beautiful.
One of my only lasting impressions of the 1998 Godzilla was the beat heavy soundtrack, which seemed to have an aim at having a track appear on the billboard top 10. This time around the film makers have chosen a different route, using instrumentals to build scenes and also at times pay homage to the original movies with the traditional Japanese Godzilla tune. While a fan of Puff Daddy/Diddy/Sean Combs I may be, Alexandre Desplat’s score is more suited to this film as it doesn’t take over scenes, it strengthens them … which to be honest Pacific Rim could learn a lesson from if and when they decide to bankroll their sequel.
For all this film does right, walking out of the movie there was one main issue that stayed with me and in the end overshadowed my memory of the film … what was the reason behind Godzilla doing what he did. Now I know that asking about the motivation behind a character’s action when the character is a gigantic lizard sounds terribly hipster, but I actually wanted to know why did he come out to hunt the MUTOs? Why did he then bugger off when he was done killing them? Why didn’t he stick around and munch on all the humans? And where exactly has he been all this time?! With talk of the sequel being green-lit already, I hope my questions get answered in the next one.
Would I recommend this movie for others to watch? That’s an easy yes. I love me a beautiful big budget movie that I can, for the most part, turn my brain off and watch the spectacle of some big time destruction, and mix in some giant monsters going at it. Really, what’s there not to love? When it comes out on BluRay, this is going to be a great movie for those hung over Sundays. This is a movie franchise that lay dormant for years and has now come back into the world with a god almighty roar.
– Ben Abbott