Thursday, September 18, 2014

Heavy Metal Movie Review - Godzilla

Review by Grownman

Where can I even begin? I'm probably gonna spoil some details on here so stop reading until you've watched it or if you're weird like me keep on reading.

So here we go. I made sure to take some mental notes about the film while enjoying a bag of pretzel rods and a fine pumpkin brew, Jack-O Traveler, by the fine folks at Traveler Brewing. Sadly the best part of the movie experience was the snacks and seasonal booze.

I'm a huge fan of early Godzilla movies. Back in the 80's I got my first taste of the Kaiju King on a program called Creature Double feature. Along with pro wrestling, monster movies were a staple of my weekend viewing habits. Back then you were lucky to catch a few classic monster flicks. Video stores were barely in existence and a football phone was the coolest technology I owned.

So back to the future. dvd in the player, trailers viewed and the movie begins. Being a font and design geek, I loved seeing the names of actors being displayed like text on declassified files, white outs and all. It was a clever move as it transitioned well with the layers of schematics and old news footage at the beginning of the movie. That's where all the fun of this movie ends.

Spikey tipped Godzilla makes a short appearance as his back barely breaks the surface of the ocean as we see scientists and military scrambling to drop the bomb on him. With little explanation of the outcome of that explosion or the decades of time that passes, we end up in 1999. Ironically a year after the last American made Godzilla film dropped and flopped.

I'll summarize what happens in 1999. Japanese scientist? / excavator? finds a giant hole, fossils and the trail of an enormous monster that must have caused the hole leading to the ocean....hmmm...anyone notice a goddamn monster slothing it's way across to the beach?

Cut to the star of the film (Or is he?) Bryan Cranston.

Fresh off the cult hit Breaking Bad, you'd think the screen writers would give someone with acting chops much more to work with. Instead, we get the stereotypical Nuclear scientist Joe Brody who's so into his work that his wife played by Juliette Binoche(does she even have a name) has to remind him that today's his birthday and that he actually has a son.

Phenomenal actress Binoche, barely gets any screen time before she's offed in a hallway by a pink version of the smog monster from Lost. This is where we are supposed to start caring about the characters in this movie right? Nope

The whole damn nuclear power plant implodes, silos and all right before the eyes of Cranston's characters son, Ford, who is dumbfounded as he watches from his school room window. Yeah, because building a school mere miles from a Nuclear Power plant is a good call.

Fast forward 15 years later, modern time, good ole 2014.

Ford played by Aaron Taylor Johnson of KickAss, is your basic run of the mill soldier returning from service to a young wife and son in California. After promising to be around for his son in a poignant bed time scene he gets a call about his own dad and does not see the kid again til the end of the film. Cats in the cradle....

Father Brody is up to his old hijinks again as his attempts to visit his former home in the Nuclear No No zone are thwarted again. I was really hoping for a scene where a giant taco is seen chasing him away. Ford shows up in Japan to bail out his ole dad who soon convinces him that they both should go to the NO NO zone and of course get arrested. We find out that Brody's conspiracies about a government coverup all these years might have some bearing when he slips off his Buzz Lightyear mask and realizes it's all safe in Andy's room. No radiation and his treasured floppy disks are still intact. This is where we get to see Cranston really act right? We'll get to see what was so important about these discs right? Nope

Instead, the directors split up the Brody boys. While Cranston gets interrogated, Ford is stuck in the back of a van. Japanese scientist/excavator is shown to be the leader of a group of people staring at an embilical chord that's feeding off all that radioactive waste. Cranston makes the best of his role with an epic one man solo as he fights back tears and demands answers. When the earth starts shaking like it's 1999, they shut down whatever is supplying the chord with radiation and the damn thing turns into a praying mantis monster with a head that looks straight out of Transformers.. Cranston gets gravely injured at the power plant and once it again it all happens right in front of his son. Damn!

Japanese scientist/excavator/monster breeder picks Brody and son to help him get things back on track even though Brody has one foot in the grave and another on a chiquita banana.

Brody dies. No time to mourn doctor jones. The movie hasn't even seen a glimpse of Godzilla and we're already down two incredible actors. hmmm
I've gone on longer than I hoped for in this review so I'll try to summarize the second half of the movie.

Godzilla appears. Military get involved and decide to blow up the monsters with a bomb. The love interest of the first praying mantis monster(Muto) appears and they have a disturbing moment where they rub up against each other like two star crossed lovers. Let me not forget that the second love monster escaped from another gigantic hole unnoticed. This time from the side of a Nevada underground base filled with Nuclear Waste. I call Bullshit. This place doesn't have an alarm?

Despite already surviving several harrowing near misses, Ford joins the miltary forces trying to track and stop the mighty beasts. He eventually has time to call his wife shortly before jumping out of a plane with the intent to single handedly detonate a nuclear bomb. Bridges destroyed, cities demolished and we finally get to see Godzilla in action.

The ensuing grappling match between Godzilla and the two love birds is disjointed at best. With various cut aways and scenes so dark I could barely make out what the hell was going on, I started to nod off. Seriously I waited for this?

Japanese scientist/excavator drops the worst line in the movie..."Let Them Fight". Thanks Bruce Buffer. Despite the odds, Godzilla Hulks up and is victorious. Ford realizes he can't detonate the bomb so he sails it off coast. Godzilla cuts off the remaining Muto and both Ford and the King of Monsters pass out.

Hollywood ending, family reunite and Godzilla decides to get up and walk away.
Somehow Godzilla became the Hulk and Aaron Taylor Johnson's Ford retained his KICK ASS(1 &2) characteristics as he survives every insurmountable odd without barely a scratch.

I call Bullshit on this entire movie. Arguably the greatest, cross cultural, movie monster of all time was treated like a complete afterthought. The few characters I actually began to be invested in were killed off just as they were developing. Godzilla was as devoid of fun as it was devoid of Godzilla itself. This movie left me wanting...wanting to rewatch Pacific Rim and Cloverfield. 

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