Well, God knows that I have weightier things to write about, but I’ve been run pretty ragged the last few months. Over the weekend, I took the opportunity to watch the new Godzilla movie.
First, the previews:
—Maleficent. Post-modern deconstructionist crap. I will not be wasting any money on it, in any venue.
–There is another new movie coming out… I can’t remember the name of it. It looks like it’s going to be about thirty minutes of “this man tries to be a good father, but has unresolved issues with his kids” in order to attempt to get us emotionally invested in the next 90 minutes of pointless flying through space where nothing significant happens. Because of some man-made ecological disaster. In other words, everything stupid about the 1998 re-make of “Lost in Space”, without anything that was vaguely interesting.
–The Wachowski brothers have a new film coming out–Jupiter Rising. It actually looks to be very promising.
Now, for Godzilla:
Let me first of all say that this a thousand times, a million times, hell, INFINITELY better than the 1998 (coincidence?) Matthew Broderick fiasco. At least Godzilla actually LOOKS like Godzilla, and he does breathe fire. If you don’t know anything about (or don’t care about) science, the military, or the original movie Godzilla, this is a fun monster smash-up movie about the military using science to fight Godzilla (sort of). The pacing is decent, and there is actually a good balance between developing the human characters and watching huge monsters destroy cities (One of my favorite reviews of the movie so far is that the last half hour has no character development, just big monsters smashing buildings. Hello, that’s the POINT. What movie do you think you’re going to watch?). It’s fun, but it’s never going to be a considered a classic, for five reasons:
1) It’s a re-make. Seriously. Make an original movie, Hollywood.
2) Cinematography. The director had a really interesting idea to introduce verisimilitude into his sound-stage scenes by showing establishing shots with animal behaviours. This would have been BRILLIANT if had been done, say, twice. Oh, no. There are bugs and birds and dogs and coyotes and lizards and… Stop. Showing me. Animals. Literally minutes of film spent just watching animals walk around.
3) SCIENCE. Admittedly, science has never been the strong suit of the kaiju genre. But with the budget this film obviously had, and the interest the director otherwise showed in making this look more realistic, they could have hired someone to tell them that gas masks don’t protect you from radiation. That when a nuclear reactor goes into melt-down, you can’t just close a door and everything’s okay. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m not doing this from a DVD right in front of me. Gomen nasai!
4) The military. Okay, I have to give props to the movie for at least portraying the military in a positive light. This is a recent development in a Hollywood which has been entrenched in military-bashing since the late sixties, and a trend which needs to continue. But there’s a lot of stuff in here that just doesn’t happen. Military personnel don’t wear gas masks everywhere for no reason. Some Navy Lieutenant can’t just say, “Hey, I want to go on this mission” and go–for many reasons. Navy lieutenants don’t do EOD work themselves–that’s what enlisted techs are for. And oh, not every person in the military, especially not Naval officers, are qualified to do HALO insertions.
5) Godzilla himself. The director takes the tack of the later, more kid-friendly Godzilla movies, in which Godzilla is actually a protagonist. I don’t care which studio makes movies like this, it ruins the genre for me. The whole POINT of Gojira was not that he was some “balancing force of nature”, but that he was the fire-breathing, building-stomping, living embodiment of the destruction of atomic weaponry. Godzilla fighting other monsters is otaku-cool. Godzilla saving humanity? Please. That’s Mothra’s job. 🙂
Which brings up another (tangential) point: every time Hiroshima is mentioned in a Hollywood movie (they never seem to mention Nagasaki), the Japanese are really bitter and resentful about it. I’m sure that there ARE Japanese like that–not everyone can be happy about huge bombs leveling whole cities in their home country. I’m saying that Hiroshima and Nagasaki today, seventy years after being be devasted by atomic bombs, are thriving cities (in far better shape than, say, Detroit after seventy years of Democratic mayors). I lived in Japan for three years, and I never met a single Japanese person who was alive during WWII who was anything but enthusiastically grateful that the United States stopped the Japanese Imperial war machine.