Godzilla (2014)

The biggest, lizardiest building of all.

Hey folks, hope your weekend was full of low altitude drops into extremely dangerous situations! I know mine certainly was, and it's all thanks to the arrogance of man, whose hubris knows no bounds. Welcome back to the Tagline, today I will be talking about the new Godzilla film that was just released, which I approached with a mixture of hope and deep fear. Much like any person who had endured a traumatic incident, I was fearful to approach something that was so reminiscent of the place where I had previously suffered. If you would like my complete thoughts on the matter, then please feel free to look over here. Anyway this film cuts a different path entirely, and is actually about a thing that you'd expect a Godzilla movie to be about, and not a bunch of assholes trying to blow up some weird looking Tyrannosaurus or something. This showed us that clearly the makers of 1998 Godzilla had no idea what the fuck they were doing. In addition to the 8 million other reasons why that movie was total shit, it was doomed from the start due to an inherent lack of understanding, about what people like about Godzilla. To wit, no one wants to watch a movie where Ferris Bueller and Leon the Professional team up to murder Godzilla and a bunch of Jurassic Park raptors. NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT MOVIE (okay someone might, but that's a totally different movie). It shows that the creators of that movie didn't know shit about Godzilla. Godzilla is not the bad guy. No one wants to see Godzilla get killed. We want to see him beat up OTHER MONSTERS and the city just sort of gets annihilated in the crossfire, because he's really big, and the other monsters are also big. Godzilla is the hero of the movie, make no mistake. Sure he maybe kills a lot of people, but he isn't TRYING to kill them. They're probably assholes anyway, why are they hanging around downtown with a 30 story tall lizard bearing down on them?

It's not a tentacle.
So now that we've established that important and very basic fact, I can go forward talking about this movie. Godzilla does what everyone has been waiting for all these years, and unites Kick-Ass, Heisenberg, and Katsumoto from The Last Samurai, as a kind of super team that's ready to save the world from nuclear monsters. Okay I made that up, but this film does feature Bryan Cranston as nuclear physicist Joe Brody, a man who lost his wife when the power plant they both worked at was destroyed in a mysterious disaster event. Aaron Taylor-Johnson portrays his son Ford, a member of the U.S. Navy and an expert in explosive ordinance disposal (which proves to be pretty important later in the game). Watanabe Ken is featured as perpetually surprised and horrified looking scientist Ishiro Serizawa, a member of a secret organization that is studying Gojira and other really old scary radiation monsters. The movie begins with a flashback, to the aforementioned power plant destruction, and then jumps forward 15 years to the present day, where a whole fucking ton of additional destruction is about to happen. The movie presents itself as a kind of parallel story, with two main plotlines that have a converging point. Ford is trying to get home to his wife and son, and at the same time becomes involved in the effort to draw off and kill the two monsters that are NOT Godzilla (his wife is the littlest Olsen by the way, so good luck trying to not see Mary-Kate and Ashley every time you look at her, it's creepy). The other plot line is there are two monsters tearing shit up and eating atomic bombs, and Godzilla is coming out of the fucking ocean to mess their shit up, because this is HIS house.

I like to hang out in ribcages also.
I think that this movie shows that the director is a real fan of Godzilla, and understands what this movie needed to be. The movie shows a superior understanding of effective narrative in general I think, blending just enough human drama in with the big monster battle sequences to keep you invested in the outcome (just in case you aren't like me and don't just root for Godzilla because he's awesome). Human characters play a role in the story, but ultimately Watanabe Ken's character states the movie's premise, that man is not in control of nature like he thinks, and when natural forces rage the best thing to do is get out of the way. Still, Ford is given his own heroic arc and moments, which is nice to see, because you always like to see good guys striving against long odds. Even those sequences highlight how pathetically outmatched man's weapons are when compared to the primordial creatures duking it out though.

The new face of heroism.
Speaking of duking it out, this was another place where the movie got it right. I saw some people complaining that the monster battle sequences weren't more plentiful, but I think that if your audience is digging it but wishes there was a little more, then you've done your job just right. The movie doesn't explode with constant action, instead building up a slow rise in drama and action until the final, climactic battle between Godzilla and the two monsters happens in San Francisco. I won't lie to you guys though, I was anxiously waiting for it through the whole movie, and was really excited when it finally happened and was every bit as awesome as I'd hoped. For instance, I wasn't sure how all in the movie was going to go. Is Godzilla going to breathe radioactive plasma at the monsters? He does, and it is so awesome that when it happened first in the theater I was in, the whole place erupted into cheers and clapping (I was lucky to be in a theater full of people who were clearly as enthusiastic and impressed as me). I also think that the designers made smart choices with the appearance of the monsters, making the "bad monsters" look alien and menacing, where Godzilla has a more regal, heroic appearance, with a recognizable face, and a bipedal attack stance. He isn't some lame freaky dinosaur thing, he's a souped up, modern looking take on the original, and I was left with the same feeling of admiration and awe that the characters in the movie had, as he swam away back into the ocean. This movie proved to be one of the most pleasant surprises I've had all year in the theater.

That's all for today folks! Join me later this week, when I probably am not nearly as giddy or nice, because let's face it, how often does that happen.

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