Gojira takes no prisoners
Through the billowing wall of smoke rising from the city’s fiery annihilation emerges the hero and destructor of four major commercial cities. With a snout that looks close to a smashed up accident on the 405 and a piercing scream akin to the "Jurassic Park" T-rex, Godzilla has come trudging back into the cinema limelight.
The remake of the science-fiction monster film "Godzilla" is a global smash. Over the weekend, the movie made over $100 million at the box office. The once amateurish Gareth Edwards stretched his CG competent legs in his third monster movie and re-opened the franchise’s doors.
Following the love-to-hate 1998 version that made George Clooney’s "Batman and Robin"(1997) look like Aristotle’s prose comes a "Godzilla" that holds true to the cinematic spectacle. Resoundingly, it’s a film of form over content. In other words, it is awesome in the truest meaning of the word, but the plot is essentially lame.
Godzilla is back and bigger than ever before, battling his pre-historic foe, the robotic Mothra, closely related to the landstrider creatures in "The Dark Crystal." With an obvious nod to environmental woes about nuclear waste, energy, power plants, and war, parasitic monsters emerge from the depths of the planet to consume energy and reproduce.
Identified by the US military as MUTO’s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), these male and female electricity-altering monsters burrowed out of their century old cocoons. Godzilla is theorized to be “nature’s way of restoring balance.”
The film’s first line is an efficient sum-up of the entire story: “Just warning you, it’s a mess.”
The most common thought that went through my mind while watching these three monsters clumsily destroy major cities in a matter of minutes was, did anyone actually survive this?
Starting with the collapse of a nuclear power plant in Japan, the monsters string along their destructive slow lumbering through the main strip of Las Vegas, the Oakland Hills, Hawaii, and finally, San Francisco. No structure of any kind is left standing.
As the whole of San Francisco’s financial district and dot-com douche bag neighborhood is obliterated in the monster scrimmage, the Silicon Valley media moguls slowly raised their fists in becoming masters of the Internet universe.
If these MUTO’s didn’t have such a bad case of ‘bull in a china shop’, they could have collectively eaten all of the world’s nuclear waste and solved a major environmental problem. Instead they had to die by the hands of a massive lizard with epic lightning screams.
Though the various monster-reveal scenes, "Jaws" moments, and news lens perspective shots were an incredible part of the experience, character and plot development were not. Aside from the three monsters, every other element in the film was relatively typical.
Opening panning shots approaching Japan were accompanied with taiko percussion music, habitually associated with Japanese culture.
The human characters, though they held major potential for complexity, were created by screenwriter David Callaham, whose characters in "Doom" (2005), "Show[ed] less human dimension than the [...] Wallace and Gromit movie,” according to critic Gene Seymour.
The scientists of the story remained the same hair-brained mad scientists who claim to know nothing and at the same time know everything. "Breaking Bad’s" Bryan Cranston was his same out of control Walter White self with an added twinge of government conspiracy. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, held the same bewildered, open-mouth face through all of his one-word responses. It was a slight change of tone from his usual, clenched-jawed self in Christopher Nolan's "Inception" and "Batman Begins."
The remaining men in the film were either in the military or victims of the mass obliteration of the civilian populations. If you weren’t in the army, you didn’t survive. The film’s leading man Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, exhibited the typical military-man hero, with his fearless Keanu Reeves-like faraway looks and determination to follow through with his mission.
Though the scientists explained that the monsters feed off of radioactivity and nuclear energy, the US military decided a nuclear warhead would be the best plan of attack. Of course, feeding the stereotype that the US military is a bomb-happy world police, recklessly sending timed bombs into major cities.
Luckily enough, there isn't a drone strong enough to carry one of those radiated bad boys. At one point, Godzilla saved thousands of civilians parked on the Golden Gate Bridge from a military misfire. Yes dear reader, you read that correctly.
The human female characters were stereotypical doe-eyed damsels in distress. Serizawa’s assistant Vivien Graham, played by Sally Hawkins, was there to state the obvious, ask her male counterpart all of the questions, and tell her ‘sensei’ that the big military man has a question.
Rising star Elizabeth Olsen, who has proven her acting talent in "Martha Marcy May Marlene"(2011), was given stereotypical 1950’s housewife acting directions. Basically, be completely indecisive, freak out the entire time and wait for her big hunky Spartan man to come rescue her in the middle of the city’s imminent doom.
Even iconic French actress Juliette Binoche makes what can be termed a cameo since she's killed off Anne Hathaway style after only about 10 minutes of screentime. What a far cry from her work in the 90s like "Blue" and "Chocolat."
Through the poor character development and pretty shallow plot, there are worth-while cinematically impressive moments. For guys, the excitement of seeing "Godzilla" is probably at level nine, for girls, probably around six.
Though the massive victorious creature returned back to his oceanic bed, Warner Brothers said he will emerge again in a sequel. The question is, what else would he possibly do for society other than be the irritating Kool-Aid guy who destroys buildings?