Saturday, May 17, 2014

Godzilla 2014 [Movie Review]

It was the opening day of yet another big science fiction movie.
So, what do you think I did. Yep, I went to see it.
I gathered up a couple of friends and we went to see a matinee showing of Godzilla 2014.

Now that is certainly a look of pain.
Let me start by saying that I've seen a lot of the original movies, sometimes normally, sometimes as a MST3K riff on them.

I even seen the 1998 Godzilla movie by Roland Emmerich, as much as I am embarrassed to admit it. It was so off of the original Godzilla franchise that Toho officially renamed the beast 'Zilla.'  

2.5 out of 5 stars

Bryan Cranston gives a good performance.

So I've been around these movies alot.
I do not venerate the old ones, but I have enjoyed them. I have really enjoyed the ones riffed by MST3K (and their Gamera riffs too).

So perhaps I went in to this movie with my expectations set far too high. There was so much aplomb that this movie would hail closer to the originals. Toho was involved. (But perhaps only in distribution? It seems as if this film was the second Godzilla to be made entirely by an American studio.)

So let me get into the movie a touch, well, lets cover some of the good and some of the bad.

The Good First.

Ken Watanabe, the other good actor in this movie.
- Bryan Cranston & Ken Watanabe: These two provide almost the entire acting power of the film. The problem, between them they get probably less than 40 minutes of screen time in a 123minute long movie. Seriously, they are the most interesting of the human characters.  

-  The Kaiju: They are kinda cool, okay, pretty darn cool. Gozdilla himself appears a touch pudgy, even more so than a man in a rubber suit. But the Muto are also nice. I actually liked their design more than Godzilla's.

- I got to see some of my favorite places: Hawai'i and Las Vegas. Two of my favorite places to vacation. Sadly, this movie goes out of it's way to wreck my favorite vacation spots. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I really want to go back to Hawai'i. Last time I was there I took a boat around Kauai and saw the place where the opening helicopter ride from Jurassic Park was filmed. I think that the same location was used in Godzilla 2014, but it may have just been off of Honolulu. (Further investigation looks like it was just off the coast of Honolulu, and eastern Oahu. Darn.) 

Every battle involves the dust of war. Lots of dust. Lots.
Okay, I'm struggling to find anymore accolades. Which sucks, I like to say good things about most movies.

Oh, wait. One more.

What the ---- am I looking at?!?
- There was no forced sequel scene: No, seriously. There was no scene that came right out and said 'Godzilla will be back.' No evil Muto spawn lying hidden, no evil scientist grinning with devilish glee, nothing. That was actually kinda fresh.

Sadly though, now we move on to the Not Good.

- Good Actors get little screen time. I already covered this. I'm not gonna rehash it.

- The Emotional Side-story: Bryan Cranston's character's son is arguably the main human character of the movie. He has a wife and son. I could have cared less about all three of them. They never once made me like them, or even care about them. They actually were more annoying than anything else.

Sign: Caution! Giant Prehistoric Jarts tournament.
Godzilla at sea. At sea, his back spiny.
- Gojira vs Godzilla: In the 1998 Godzilla we were given an explanation as to why the heck American's can't say a three syllable Japanese word. Go-Ji-Ra. Super freakin' simple. In this one, despite Ken Watanabe's character constantly pronouncing it 'gojira' the American's once again, for no reason at all this time, pronounce it Godzilla. WHY? Give me a reason! I can come up with one... American's are lazy and stupid. I must be correct because no real reason was given. There is no other reason to mispronounce 'Gojira' as 'Godzilla' otherwise. In the 1950's the method for translating Japanese text to Roman (English) text may have converted the 'ji' to 'di' but that is no excuse for it nowadays. Go back and watch the movie from 1954, subtitled please, and you will hear them say 'Gojira.'

- Too Much Smoke: Every Single Battle involves copious amounts of smoke and dust. I understand why, but it felt overdone. Of course that also means that like every character gets lung cancer... that level of fine and filthy particulate inhalation can not be good.

- Scientific Idiocy & Engineering Impossibilities: I'm gonna completely ignore the problems of a 110m tall monster that breaths out jets of phosphorus fire, or monsters that feed on radioactivity. No... I'm talking about the way EMP was used. An EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) wave would not simply turn off the power in electronic devices. It fries them. It fries them up real good. Circuits become fused, wiring blown, fuses blown, computer chips are fried, everything goes kaput. They become worthless. You don't just get to restart them. A city's power will not magically come on after an EMP hits the city. The city is screwed. Now maybe they meant EMI, Electromagnetic Interference. Perhaps that, if powerful enough, could take down electical grids. Now I know it can mess with radio signals, TV, data transmissions, etc... but can it knock out the power? I doubt it... but maybe. Then there is the glass in a restraunt window that somehow withstands hundreds of thousands of pounds of pressure as a tsunami goes crashing by it. It cracks and miraculously holds. This is not quite the Ominous Crack, but it is close. There should be a trope for 'The Glass that Cracks gets Stronger.' It was silly and stupid. There were certainly more scientific / engineering inaccuracies, but I'm not gonna list em all.    

Now it may seem like the Bad should not outweigh the Good, and they really don't. Nor do the good make up for the bad. They coexist. So let me make a final point. I liked Pacific Rim better.

Giant Robots & Kaiju together out weight Kaiju alone. I actually liked some of the characters in Pacific Rim, while I didn't really care at all about the characters in Godzilla. That makes a big difference in the way one sees a movie.

This was not bad, but it was not a movie with human characters I cared about. They never made me care about them. Ever.

So that's that.

Oh, as an addendum. I saw the trailer for the Urban Myth movie of the year again. Lucy. No movie preview has ever made me grind my teeth nearly as much as that one. Lucy will be a bad movie for one solid reason - the whole plot is based on a giant false urban myth. Nothing can help that movie recover from that bit of idiocy.

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