You can actually read all of the information from Dorion Solot and Marashall Miller’s lecture (and a whole lot more) in their book “I Love the Female Orgasm.” Definitely check it out, lord knows I took a ton of very useful notes when I attended that seminar.
When I first learned that there was an American made Godzilla movie in the works my first thoughts were “oh god, not again.” I don’t need to remind any Godzilla fan that the 1998 movie with Mathew Broderick was a travesty. It wasn’t the worst movie, but was it Godzilla? No.
There is exactly one good Godzilla movie, and that is the 1954 original Japanese “Gojira.” Every Godzilla fan worth their salt will tell you this with complete conviction, because it’s true.
The ensuing 20+ sequels were not made to provide an improved or insightful continuation of the story, they were all meant to make money, which is precisely what they did. As we all know, making money with movies in no way requires good writing or acting. Thus most Godzilla movies are rightfully known for being campy at best and otherwise laughably bad.
And yet? Knowing this I still spent the coming years waiting for Godzilla 2014 with nothing but doubt and skepticism swimming in my head. Edward Gareth’s drowsily titled movie “Monsters” had left a terrible taste in my mouth. But to be perfectly honest? I felt that an American made Godzilla movie was like having Donald Trump make a Stradivarius. Sure he might know what it looks like, he might pour giant sums of money into it, he might even have truly talented people working for him. But will it be a Stradivarius? No.
But in spite of all my reservations it would seem as though Hollywood has redeemed itself somewhat. I have to admit, I didn’t hate it. It was not a complete disaster, in fact I even found myself enjoying large chunks of it.
There are a million different ways I might review this movie but I will go the route of the ever trendy list format.
Here is what I liked:
1) Despite criticism of his weight, I rather enjoyed the design they chose for Godzilla. He is a monolithic powerhouse (with little iddy biddy tootsies!) and the sound design that comes with him matches up perfectly. He looks, moves, and sounds like a giant monster.
2) They actually have Godzilla using his blue radioactive fire breath. Well played Gareth. Well played.
3) Bryan Cranston raises the acting and story to level of realism that truly captivated me.
4) When the smoke settles and they cut out that “hand held camera” bullshit long enough for you to actually see the monsters fighting? It’s a satisfying brawl to watch.
5) There’s a lot of standing around and pondering in most Godzilla movies, whereas here the pace is pretty quick. It cuts out entirely the all too common “good god, what is that thing?” and the “how can we destroy it?” scenes.
Here is what I disliked:
1) As I said, Bryan Cranston’s acting was great. That is until he fucking dies off camera and leaves us with the pouty tough guy played by Aaron Taylor Johnson. I will never expect good acting from a giant monster movie, and although Johnson is a pretty face to look, at his performance was frankly annoying. Great actors like Ken Watanabe and Juliette Binoche barely speak in this movie. It was like I was watching the American cut of the original Japanese version where they removed all the political commentary and cultural anecdotes.
2) Godzilla faces off against a monster named M.U.T.O. And it is essentially the beast from “Cloverfield” with a black catsuit on. I can’t fathom why six years after Cloverfield came out they would choose something so similar. It doesn’t feel like an homage, it felt lazy.
3) The Godzilla movies of old came with very simple moral messages ranging from anti-pollution to anti-bullying. These were more or less dropped starting with “the millennium series.” With this movie the one and only message is that the American Military Complex has things well under cover. It’s so Post 9/11-Cliche that you could easily take a few naps between scenes and not miss out on anything you haven’t already seen from the countless military blockbusters from the last 10 years.
4) There is never a single moment of hesitation, shame, or fear when it comes to nuclear weapons. This is the entire point of Godzilla: technology when used for war has unstoppable consequences. I thought it was insulting to Japan that they played off the cold war bombings as simply an attempt to kill Godzilla. “Oh no! We weren’t flexing our muscles to demonstrate our standing as a super power, we were trying to SAVE you!” Exactly one time in the movie does the Hiroshima bombing get brought up, but it’s so anticlimactic and lifeless that they might as well have cut it out completely.
5) Bechdel Test FAIL! Why, guys? Why? Why couldn’t there have been more female characters with actual weight in the movie? There is no excuse for this, which I say not simply as a feminist but as a Godzilla fan. The millennium series of Godzilla movies made concerted efforts to provide their audience with more female characters. So why couldn’t this one? It’s boring, it’s predictable, and it paints the picture that all Godzilla movies are meant for boys. Come on people!
• • •
As I said before there is exactly one good Godzilla movie. The rest are just for fun, and really that’s what this movie was.
I still can’t consider it canon, I just can’t, sorrynotsorry. And in fact if I was going to recommend an American giant monster movie I’d sooner recommend “Cloverfield” or “Pacific Rim.”
But it was a relatively nice nod and at the end of the day that’s the best we could have hoped for.
Now I just pray that this kicks the Japanese in the balls enough for them to produce a comeback movie. Hooooo pleaseohpleaseohplease…