Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Godzilla (2014)

The much anticipated reboot of the flagging franchise that was kinda abused and left for dead back in 1998 by Roland Emmerich. A revamped origins tale set in the present day with a much darker moodier semi realistic approach  that everybody kinda expected to be like 'Pacific Rim' but wasn't.

I'm not gonna lie and say this movie isn't cheesy, its all about huge monsters that are awakened from the bowels of the Earth and go rampaging through our city streets...oh and these monsters eat radiation. Indeed the story starts out in a very cheesy hammy sandwich type manner much like the Emmerich version back in 98. A couple large egg-like cocoons are accidentally discovered by a mining company, one happens to be fresh and open leaving a rather huge obvious trail down to the seafront. The appearance of these two insectoid-like monsters triggers the appearance of Godzilla for some reason whose existence has been known about since 1954 by the US government...can never trust that US government huh. What was that huge skeleton then? a long dead Godzilla?

I like how the military pick up Cranston and his son when snooping around the ruins of Janjira and take them back to the top secret base where they keep the monster. Why would you take trespassers back to your top secret base and show them everything? I did like the little moment showing some bugs crawling over tiny toy tanks in the ruins, clever little wink there.

It seems that these monsters were driven underground millions of years ago I think it was, hibernating if you will. All that time they have lived on radiation deep within the Earth but...would there be enough radiation for such large creatures? wouldn't these creatures ever need to move around or require oxygen to breathe? Now I realise these things all tie in with Godzilla lore and the film is of course an all out fantasy flick about monster mashing but at the same time its been made in a serious way so questions will be raised. I know Godzilla has his trademark atomic breath attack (like a dragon) and these things emit EMP attacks, but how would that stuff even work in a semi- realistic movie like this? is there enough radiation for such vast creatures to live on when on the surface? I'm no scientist so beats me, doesn't seem feasible.

I still don't really get why Godzilla even pops up in this story, does he merely awaken to hunt the other two monsters? how does he even know they are around? why does he hunt them? he clearly has some kind of grudge against these things. Since Godzilla has been around since 1954 what has he been doing all this time?? if he lives to hunt the other monsters what the hell does he do to pass the time?!! anyone?? And how in God's name does he NOT get seen by any living soul??!! the thing is fucking massive!! you're telling me he's never been spotted or detected when swimming around or possibly popping up for some sunshine. Seriously I know I'm a picky bastard but come on!

So apart from the patchwork plot what else has this got? well if you're wanting monster battles then not much. Most of the overly long run time is merely watching human characters and their rather mundane problems as their world gets crushed around them. You'd think the development would be solid but its not really, its very shallow, very cliched and wholly boring frankly. What's more the damn bare faced false advertising of man of the moment Cranston as a main character is unbelievable! He's the only character of any interest and they kill the bugger off in the first twenty odd minutes!

The whole movie does play out like and have a very clear Speilbergian quality to it if you ask me. The entire approach both story wise and visually feels like a vamped up 'Close Encounters'...or 'Jaws' even. The way they hide the creatures right until the finale, lots of hinting, the dreary character arcs, the eerie foreboding, the bleak colour scheme and lighting etc...The only problem is this is a Godzilla movie, you pay to see Godzilla, you pay to see Godzilla kicking another monsters ass, you don't pay to see dull humans talking about how they can stop this rarely seen threat. Seriously Watanabe had a face like a goldfish for the entire run time, that's all he did...look shocked through multiple facial closeups accompanied by dramatic musical crescendos. In fact there were loads of overly dramatic moments with facial closeups and dialog read in an overly dramatic manner, quite amusing.

Once we see Godzilla he does look the business admittedly, the beast is gigantic imposing scary and spot on design wise. This Godzilla really looks like the classic Zilla we've all seen in the old Japanese flicks, its his face and spine scales that really sell it this time. The other monsters are fair enough but nothing outstanding, more like rejects from that Del Toro movie with their glowing luminous eyes and...errr luminous glowing egg sack cocoon things. I'm not a Godzilla connoisseur so I don't know but doesn't Zilla ever eat humans? would have been cool to see, plenty of stomp fodder of course which was sweet...yep I know that seems a bit sadistic but hey its a Godzilla movie.

In the end most of the movie doesn't feel like a Godzilla movie but a movie about military folk trying to get a bomb from one place to another and then trying to disarm it. The monster jiggery pokery merely happens in the background. When it does kick off at the end it does so spectacularly...as Godzilla saves the humans? Yep he kills the naughty beasties then simply slumps off back into the ocean without so much as a whiff of human munching. Oh and all the survivors of what's left of San Francisco cheer him as he does so...from the utter ruins of their city. Yes the movie looks fantastic all the way through, Godzilla looks fantastic, the final boss fight at the end looks fantastic and there are some fantastic sequences like the HALO jump.

Despite my hardline review I did kinda enjoy the film and I appreciate how they went about it by not slapping all their cards on the table at once. Whether that was the ideal way to go for this franchise is debatable and I'm sort of borderline with it. Its a solid new Godzilla from Hollywood but personally I think they have kinda acted a bit sneaky and have purposely held Godzilla back aiming to go all out with the possible (slightly inevitable) sequel...dare I say trilogy? Is it just me being cynical or does this seem to be the game plan more often these days.