Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
This has never been a favorite monster for me for some reason. I know, it’s especially confusing given my fondness for apocalypse fiction, but there you go. Godzilla has been around since the last Great War (that would be number two), and has obvious roots in the radioactive paranoia of the era. The original or a close substitute was on just about every week on the late-late-late night television (back when it went off the air at midnight…yeah, wrap your mind around THAT for a moment) so I had ample opportunity to get acquainted. Later, in those smoke shrouded college years, I saw Gomera and of course laughed myself sick but didn’t become a fan. I’m not sure why, but there it is.
Still, the trailers for the newest version of the old lizard intrigued me. Maybe they’ve made a version I’ll appreciate, I thought, so I popped in the disk and gave it a whirl. The only Major Fail I have in this review is a huge complaint about how dark the film is. Like, completely black screens for minutes at a time. If the sequence doesn’t occur in a bright place – like outside at noon on the equator – then you’re not going to actually see what’s happening. I’m estimating that fully a quarter of the film is completely unwatchable (though you can pretty much make out what’s going on from sound), and I found myself wondering if the DVD distributors cut corners by distributing a knockoff bought on some street corner in China.
The acting is standard, though I was underwhelmed by the two who played scientists who had been – supposedly – studying the phenomenon for decades, without ever learning anything significant and still being lauded as leading experts. I wondered if they have a Ph.D. in Glazed and/or Significant Looks. Our Hero Of The Always In The Right Place is rugged and handsome without going overboard and the heroine – oh wait, there is no heroine. There is The Scientist’s Assistant who must have gotten the internship after acing the Vacant Stare and Slow to Respond quals, and The Wife and Mother, who looks cute in her nurse’s uniform, loves her precious little boy (her son), and is unfailingly patient with her husband, whose mother should have run track instead of studying nuclear engineering. I don’t remember seeing any melatonin-rich or ovary’d soldiers, but I was kinda sick while watching the film and may have missed it.
There were some monster fight scenes (as in, fights between monsters), but there weren’t enough of them because they were just about the best parts. The rubber suits of old have a certain charm, but today’s technology (both graphic and aural) can knock your socks off.
The feel of the movie as a whole was of the original Japanese classics with techie updating and a few culturally and historically motivated shifts that worked for me. Overall, I found it not as entertaining as Cloverfield, even though it has a brighter message, but not terrible either. If you’re a fan of Godzilla, you’ve probably already watched it, and if you don’t normally watch Godzilla I would recommend it if you don’t mind the overwhelmingly Caucasian cast and long, dark spells. There’s no gore, lots of ruined cities – as you would expect – and the pace didn’t drag for me.
TRAILER: Godzilla Official Extended Trailer (2014) Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen HD
CFR In Addition: I reviewed Godzilla right after it came out and seemed to like it more than Mildred.