(Author’s note: This was originally written back hundreds of years ago in the lovely days of November 2014. Since Hollywood believes in bringing forth nothing new, I thought I wouldn’t either! Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve reedited this a tad and added some pictures, which the original post didn’t have, and spiffed it up in places where I saw fit. Since Godzilla Vs. Kong is coming soon or not or whatever, I thought I would polish off this little gem reminding the teeming masses how not that great Godzilla (2014) is. No, dear reader, you’re welcome! Enjoy!)
Among my diverse interests, which would include Himalayan beekeeping, blindfolded luge, and learning how to rite fenetikly, enjoying some big and loud monster movies would be nestled right near the top. I can watch the original King Kong for as many times as the day is long and sometimes even longer. I can watch the 1976 King Kong remake for about 35 minutes and then spend the rest of the day praying in the hopes that I’ll get those 35 minutes back somehow. I can watch the 2005 King Kong re-remake and actually watch my children age in real time, going from diapers to diplomas in-between opening and end credits. (That’s my new album title by the way: Diapers to Diplomas. You’re envious, I know.)
After Kong, the king of the monsters just based on sheer scale would have to be Godzilla. To prove this proveless point, here follows the actual Top Ten Sheer Scale Monster List that I suddenly and recklessly determined to come to that judgment:
Top Ten Sheer Scale Monster List
|7.||Son of Kong|
Now who doesn’t know that big loveable lug, Godzilla? After all, he was so famous that Alan Alda mentioned him several times on M*A*S*H. This in and of itself was incredible for one incredible reason: Godzilla first appeared in 1954, which was after the Korean War timeframe that M*A*S*H was based in! Seemingly Godzilla was such a well-known reference, he was legendary before he even existed; that’s how famous he is/was/will be. (Of course, Hawkeye’s reference could just be an error on the part of some lazy writers not checking on their pop culture history on that show, but I digress.)
I am a fan of the Godzilla series, from its humble beginnings to its very colorful over-blown middle parts to the latter day modern entries. The model work is usually top notch and it just gets to be plain fun watching Godzilla bash the snot out of cities and big bad monsters. Yes, the series is rather formulaic, but what franchise isn’t? Find me a Bond movie without an explosion, a Police Academy without a fart joke, a Revenge of the Nerds without nerds revenging. You can’t, can you? And don’t even bother looking because I didn’t look that hard myself in the first place and don’t want to be proven wrong.
Even as a series goes, the Godzilla formula seems pretty easy to follow:
- There’s a big bad monster which threatens the world (mainly Japan)
- Mankind (mainly Japan) can’t really fight it effectively because they are the size of G.I. Joes in comparison
- Godzilla shows up to kick booty
- The big bad monster gets the upper hand for about ten minutes
- Godzilla bashes the ever-lovin’ crap out of this big bad monster
- Godzilla goes back into the water
- And the Earth (mainly Japan) thanks Godzilla for his service
With some deviations along the way, these are the basic plot points of the Godzilla series that I’ve come to know and love.
So when my wife decided to bring 2014’s Godzilla home from the library, I was intrigued. After all, this could only be a step up from the guys in monster suits that I’ve watched over the years, right? There’s gotta be some lovely overblown CGI too! HOORAY! Plus, it was the first live-action Godzilla flick since 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars, which was an all-out extravaganza of guy-in-monster-suit-fighting-guy-in-monster-suit action. So, now let’s see what the Americans can do a decade later to hopefully improve upon the formula. (This is said with the full acknowledgement that the 1998 effort exists. Of course, you all remember the travesty that was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with Godzilla. Prayers would be appreciated.)
With all of these thoughts wiggling around in my noggin, we popped in the DVD and sat back with expectations that couldn’t be lower if we tried. The only way we could get them lower would be taking the time to rent a backhoe in order to dig deeper into the planet itself all the way down into the molten core. And even then we wouldn’t have gotten low enough. Since those efforts would be rendered moot at best, I stopped dialing the number for Country Tom’s All-Nite Backhoe Rental Emporium, and watched the movie instead.
And then the end credits rolled. Woo boy. So in no particular order other than numerically, here’s what I noticed whilst watching this Godzilla movie and spoilers be damned because it has been a while since this thing came out and I just don’t care.
1) Well, the opening credits proved promising. I did enjoy blending Godzilla into old nifty A-Bomb test footage from the 1950s. We learn later on that the military has been using A-Bomb testing as a cover-up to continually bomb Godzilla in an effort to…I don’t know…make him even bigger? It isn’t that clear. I would also like to ask if Godzilla was frequently in New Mexico and that’s why there was all that nuclear testing there too.
2) Ken Watanabe is a very good actor and certainly deserves better roles than “Stereotypical Concerned Asian Scientist That Speaks Like Confucius’ Nephew” in big dumb movies like this. But hey, if this schlock resulted in a big paycheck for him, then I have no qualms with his choice to be in Godzilla. After all, we still have The Last Samurai and Letters from Iwo Jima if we want to watch Watanabe in some meatier roles in some far better films.
3) Same goes for David Strathairn, speaking of whom, I have a story point question. Whenever giant monsters attack the world, do random admirals get to be in charge of military efforts everywhere on the earth at all times? Do they also not need any input from the president or the Joint Chiefs or NATO or the UN or whatever other Big Brother/New World Order governing body? I do admit that these questions could have been explained during yet another interminable dialogue moment in the film. (By the way, I hold no grudge towards the always dependable Mr. Strathairn. I hope he giggled with Mr. Watanabe as they cashed their voluminous checks together because I would have done the exact same thing.)
4) Bryan Cranston was great in the almost 15 minutes where we followed his storyline only to have him killed for no real reason whatsoever. Fortuitously, we then get to follow Cranston’s son who is played by some Jake Gyllenhaal-lite nameless chump. I believe that we’re forced to care about him because the camera is pointed in his direction more than anyone else, even more that the much-loved title character.
5) Speaking of this random guy, who I will call Random Guy, I love watching my sudden heroes constantly having to be rescued by more competent people. I also love watching how they are just bruised and beaten around and don’t justify why they are there. Also, if they could just emote more than a pet rock, that’s a plus, but obviously for this film it was just too much to hope for. (Was Cranston too expensive to have on set for more of the running time? Is that what it was? Is there somewhere I can donate in order to fund his being in the movie more?)
6) So you’ve got Godzilla and two hitherto unknown big bad monsters fighting each other. This is where the film should excel because all the audience wants is big monsters fighting each other. That’s why we paid our theater admission or even our $2 for the library’s new release selection. So the decision to film the massive battles at night or when it is horribly overcast is a mystery. Why dial back the eye candy of destruction that we all wanted to see? Here’s a clue: we aren’t here to see your weak tea protagonist. We are here to see Godzilla pummel something into boysenberry jam. For the extensive fight scenes, could you have had at least one during the crystal clear and sunny daylight hours? Just one? Please?
7) To that end, why are we watching this whole thing unspool for amazingly long stretches of time from the point of view of the puny humans that we don’t really care about? Why this much dialogue in dealing with a big loud monster movie? Why are we cutting away from the action? Here’s a good comparison: imagine a Bond movie where we never leave M’s offices. Sure we see Bond getting instructions, getting follow-up instructions in the middle of the movie, and seeing his chatting with his superiors by the end credits. But we also see Miss Moneypenny doing hours of light filing and M in line at the cafeteria, choosing a flavor of pudding for her tray. We see Q consistently testing something British that explodes as he then fills out form after form to compile the results. Certainly they sometimes will witness Bond blowing something up as they indulge in tsk-tsking 007, but only from afar, and that’s it. Sounds like not much of a payoff beyond witnessing Moneypenny’s mad typing skills. This is how Godzilla felt.
8) Now there was a chance to end the movie on a high note because we did witness the admittedly cool atomic breath scenes that Godzilla has made his nut on over the years. However the decision was made to have Godzilla limply go back into the ocean and roll credits. What? They can’t even end on his trademark roar that everybody recognizes the world over? Nope. He just wakes up from the nap he was taking in downtown San Francisco and then shuffles away like the almost 70 year old character that he is?! No hint of even another monster menace around? Maybe have Mothra buzz him as he’s walking away? Perhaps have a scene with King Ghidorah approaching Earth to menace the bejeebers out of us? Something? Anything? Instead: “Limp old fart lizard stumbles into ocean. The end.”
So at the end of the day, it just goes to show that even the easiest formulas are the easiest to screw up. There was only one goal: show an updated for 2014 Godzilla beat the tar out of big bad monsters. And the producers whizzed it right down their respective legs. They should have just had a Godzilla film that takes place 7 miles underwater at night and Godzilla has to fight a creature that is completely dark black that threatens to become even darker. Now, there’s something that I wouldn’t see! Well, because I wouldn’t be able to physically see it, you see. Or not.
Now there’s a good “limp old fart blogger walks away ending” that all Godzilla audiences were apparently clamoring for!