Time/place: 8pm showing Thursday at Irvine Spectrum with Megan, Korkie, and Davey
Excuse me, that’s not right.
😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 …
Okay, that’s more like it. So, wanna take a guess as to what kinda review THIS is gonna be? 😉
To start with, let’s talk about what I personally brought with me into this movie. Oh no, a long post about feelings!! Not quite.. relax. I grew up watching monsters in old movies on Saturday afternoon TV… Sinbad, King Kong, Greek mythologies, and of course, Godzilla. Godzilla, in small toy form, was a semi-regular star in the first movies I made, I had a huge (to me at the time) blow-up version of Godzilla that surprisingly lasted through years of wrestling and mutual destruction. I couldn’t point to every monster in the Godzilla universe and tell you their name and back-story, but I wasn’t that kind of kid. All I knew was that Godzilla excited the heck out of me and made for some really fun action to watch. When I saw the first posters for this new Godzilla, I was really hopeful that it would succeed in eliciting the same reaction. When I watched the first teaser trailer, I jumped up and down (I’m 31, by the way) with giddy laughter at hearing that beautiful roar and seeing how massive Godzilla looked and how amazing it all seemed.
Last night, for the first time in my life, I watched a Godzilla movie in the theater – and it was absolutely everything I could want it to be.
That’s actually a strange notion… I watched a new Godzilla movie in the theater last night. I’m still in a bit of shock about that 🙂 . My viewing experience was pretty ideal, too, being the culmination of an already wonderful day (last day in class of the semester, celebratory lunch with classmates, seeing the movie with good friends). Godzilla really is a theater-going experience to be shared with others, the more enthusiastic the better, because that’s what Godzilla is – fun. I have never before had a movie-watching experience in which I laughed and clapped and held my breath in such glee, all while sporting a near-constant face-breaking-smile. Millions of people probably die in this movie, and it’s not all campy fun as the original Godzilla movies became near the end of their run, but Godzilla is just exceptionally satisfying.
Part of this satisfaction is the build-up and anticipation. The movie opens with some basic action and intrigue, but once a giant monster appears on the screen, it’s never forgotten about. I have heard some complain that Godzilla didn’t have enough screen-time, and I can honestly understand that viewpoint, but for me, it was perfect – because the movie just teases and teases and teases until BAM, there ya go. Not that I know from personal experience, but it actually reminds me a lot of sex. The movie starts off with a calm, romantic evening, then it starts getting a little more intense and that tension just builds and continues on (with random bursts of action) until it all culminates in conclusion. My, how PG of me. I really think Godzilla found the ideal mix of the human element and monster destruction, because even when we were with the human characters, the threat and the notion of what was coming (or what was already here) was never ignored.
Speaking of the human element, I really loved everyone in this (of course, I’d probably espouse my affection for the B-unit 3rd grip, at this point). This is, first and foremost, a movie about a giant monster roaming around in the city… as serious as that is, if the movie had played it TOO seriously (ala a Dark Knight), it would have been a ROUGH 90 minutes. I won’t go into details, but there were a couple of monster-related moments that purposefully brought about laughter. In Man of Steel bajillions of people are killed, but it was jarring because Superman is supposed to save people.. and that gets ignored in the hoopla of destruction. Godzilla is an enormous beast who destroys city blocks just by taking a step, so human casualties are kind of a given. When things get emotional, though, it really felt genuine. This movie isn’t filled with action-movie stars.. it’s filled with actors. Yes, there were some fun moments where these actors obviously played a dash of camp, but when characters are going through something horrible the actors sell it. I give special nod to Elizabeth Olsen, who really becomes our everyday-human anchor in the midst of things, for really selling some very serious emotions with perfect subtlety. Everyone in the movie is splendid, though, and while the writing probably isn’t award-winning (remember, it’s Godzilla), I was really pleased with how well everything was actually handled – there was plenty of depth and oodles of realistic reactions in there to make me happy.
I was thoroughly thrilled with the more technical aspects of Godzilla, as well. While driving to school that morning, the old Godzilla theme came to my mind (bold, blaring trumpets), and I think the score of the new movie paid perfect tribute to the classic version. While the movie opens with more calm, emotional tones, the music plays the quiet suspense of it all… and then, when the titular character starts stomping around, that horn section comes in and shook the theater. Of course, Godzilla’s roar was pretty theater-shaking, as well 😉 . His first full-body introduction in the movie had me clapping and laughing in satisfied happiness, but when Godzilla concludes that shot with a roar that is both true to his history and new in the best of ways, I just about died. DIED, I tell you! He also looks like Godzilla should look, which would seem like a strange thing to even mention if we weren’t in an age that produced a peculiar looking Godzilla (1999), strange Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a Cobra Commander that didn’t look like Cobra Commander, and a bevy of other modern-movie choices that tend to ignore the heritage of characters. Of course, this new Godzilla is a bit different from his predecessors, as well: he’s beefy as all get out and he’s freaking HUGE. Allow the following chart to inform you of just how much bigger he is now…
Yep, Godzilla in Godzilla is big. The movie does a wonderful job of letting us feel that size, too. From how the water responds to his movement to shore, to the upward angles chosen, to the utter destruction caused in this wake, and to my personal favorite – the fact that only parts of his body are able to squeeze into the frame of most shots.
Once again, I just had the illumination of realizing that I’m talking about a Godzilla movie that I saw in the theater last night. Mind = blown.
I can’t talk much about the story, here, because the trailers have done such a wonderful job of concealing so much specific information that I really think it’s better for you to go into this movie as they intended you to, but let me just say that I not only enjoyed the storyline of the movie but also appreciated the changes made to Godzilla’s story. This, to me, is a perfect reboot, and probably the only time I’ve ever felt content to use that word to describe a movie. Godzilla takes an old classic, with decades of character-history, and starts it all over again in a way that is both familiar and fresh. I will mention one thing, though, that I loved enough to potentially break my non-spoiler promise… and that’s the fact that the movie doesn’t really have any villains. Oh, there are bad things going down, but even the “bad” are humane… there isn’t any mustache-curling here, and it’s really just a story about “what is.” It’s man versus nature.
Godzilla satisfied me in every way possible – it was everything I hoped it might be. I laughed, got a little almost-teary, and clapped with uncontrollable joy as this movie proceeded to engage me as an adult while simultaneously making me feel like I was a giddy little kid again sitting in front of my TV on a lazy weekend. I really hope that this can somehow mark the beginning of a new era of Godzilla movies, but even if not, this was at least an opportunity for Godzilla to come out of retirement one more time and prove to anyone who might have forgotten that he truly is the King of All Monsters.
Warning: There be spoilers below…
Since I don’t really have any overall deep analysis I want to deliver, I’m going to present the following spoiler-ific highlights (review points that I loved but couldn’t talk about in detail above) here in sporadic bullet form.
- The official visual realization of just how big Godzilla is when his foot stomps into frame at the airport brought out so many gasps in the theater… and all I could do was laugh in sheer delight 🙂 .
- The design of both Godzilla and the other monsters was so wonderful… these weren’t just cool monsters, but living animals. I especially loved the Muto’s eye design.. I have no idea how it works, but that’s what made it really fun and interesting.
- When momma Muto returns to her cooked babies and when Godzilla is struggling to live at the end, those moments were really touching – which I think is amazing. These two monsters have caused massive destruction, and one is even the “bad guy,” but the movie-makers put enough care into them as actual characters that it was easy to feel for them.
- Bryan Cranston gives so much heart to this movie, first in the genuinely horrific moment of losing his wife and then in his emotional tirade after being captured trespassing with his son, that losing him was really shocking and sad.
- The notion of “whatever it takes” that not only echoes throughout the family storyline, but also through commentary on military endeavors, was really great. I loved how the script handled that idea.. subtly but consistently.
- The two references that I caught made me smile: the Mothra sticker on the terrarium in Cranston ‘n’ Son’s dilapidated house (obvious) and then the ball-cap and attire of the Asian boy on the train that echoes a previous movie (less obvious).
- I tell ya, during the fight between Godzilla and the Mutos when I saw that glimpse of blue light on a tail in the background, I could barely contain myself. They had shown nothing of Godzilla’s super-breath in any trailer, and I was having so much fun watching the movie that I almost forgot how much I’d been hoping for its inclusion… and then BAM. And it looked so freaking good, too.
- When Godzilla pries open the final Mutos mouth and just shoots fire right down her neck, the theater kinda lost it… which is good, because it was amazing.
- The slight alteration to Godzilla’s story (not the product of nuclear testing) really felt more than okay to me. Way back then, he came about as a commentary and warning against such action… and now he represents a more overall warning of man’s arrogance and foolishness in our disrespect for nature. It wasn’t a preachy movie in the slightest, though, which wouldn’t have felt right.
- When the music from the trailer (the haunting choral music made famous by 2001: A Space Odyssey) actually started playing in the movie when the soldiers dropped into the city, I was really surprised – that never really happens, and I sure wasn’t expecting it.
- I loved this movie… though, that’s not really a spoiler by this point 😉 .