Friday, 20 June 2014

​Godzilla 2014 and the Gravitas of Hefty Guys

I tried, i really tried not to comment on this years Godzilla after last years insanity over Pacific Rim - when I got half way through reading the novelisation for Pacific Rim that really did feel like mental illness kicking in. I STILL love that movie though I have come to accept others don't :-)

I am not going to going into detail on Roland Emerich's 90s Godzilla for fear it will turn into a vast venting of spleen (as happened with Dredd and followed my blog on Stallones Judge Dredd) suffice to say I wasn't impressed at the time.

It is useful to compare both America takes on Godzilla because in both cases the trailers contained material not in the eventually released movie, and in both cases the trailers were better than the eventual film.

One of several teaser trailers for the 1998 Godzilla was set in a museum, and was entirely absent from the eventual movie

Similarly the first absolutely bonechillingly teaser for Gareth Edward's latest Godzilla, with famous quote from Robert Oppenheimer, contains shots of a dead upturned kaiju (Gamera?) which didn't appear in the movie

In fact both cases the pre-publicity over the American Godzilla has been a major feature - in 1998 it was almost a year of hype meant to undermine and riff on recently released Jurassic Park (hype for Godzilla 1998 was so out of control it was spoofed in the opening scene of Micheal Bay's Armageddon!)

Pre-publicity for Goldzilla 2014 is an absolute masterwork, with the first teaser (above) shaking the halls of a surprised Comic-con and the first real trailer featuring the HALO jump set to the Ligetti music from Kubrick's 2001 hitting the internet like a bolt of lightening.

I liked Godzilla 2014 a lot, but can understand some of the negative reaction. One of the faults of the Godzilla 2014 trailer is the prominence given to an actor, Bryan Cranston, who barely makes it half way through the movie. Other mainstream critical reaction to the human element of this new Godzilla film is quite amusing.

There is little human drama and interaction in Godzilla 2014? What a shame - <scarcasm> that was the best thing about Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla </scarcasm>

The job of actors in these movies is to react appropriately and convincingly to the spectacle. Ultimately the effects crew do a great job in making a 300 foot tall monster convincing but it is the seriousness or reactions against that which make it really believable. Cranston has got a lot of deserved credit for his performance but I also appreciated small but citical contributions from serious actors such as  Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn.
I like Mathew Broderick generally but didn't miss him in this instance.

One thing Star Wars fans should be very happy about, Gareth Edwards handling of actors is spectacular. I highly recommend Monsters, his first film, which gets better with every viewing.

Anyone complaining about lack of action in Godzilla should have paid money to see Pacific Rim instead of giving it to Adam Sandler movies. Godzilla 2014 is so close to being a direct prequel to Pacific Rim you'd think they were made by the same studio (they were - Legendary Films)
The weird world of Pacific Rim is essentially that of this Godzilla movie but 20 years on and without Godzilla - both start with attacks on San Francisco,  and Pacific Rim even mentions use of nuclear.weapons in first battle with a kaiju in San Francisco. This makes Pacific Rim a historical counter factual to Godzilla 2014 - how would a world of gigantic monster attacks develop WITHOUT Godzilla?

Pacific Rim Pacific Rim Pacific Rim
I'm off again
It's a kids film, at very best Star Wars to Godzilla 2014's 2001

One strange comparsion made between Pacific Rim and Godzilla is on scientic accuracy - Pacific Rim got quite some flak on how possible it was to have Jeagers and Kaiju physically moving around (as opposed to collapsing in a blob under their own wieght) but that seems entirely absent from Godzilla. An admission from the effects crew that the tip of Godzilla's tale would be moving so fast it would break the sound barrier only adds to the awe somehow. There is no moment of questiong how scientifically plausuble this could be, his entrance is such a self evident mind shock it is just accepted as real and beyond normal understanding or explanation.

No-one questions the physical likelihood of something like Cthulhu and this hints at another clever route this new iteration of the character is taking.  Godlike beings from deep below the Earth and before the  beginning of life as we know it? this is all very Lovecraftian - except that Godzilla is (so far) benign.

Effects crew and direction obviously add to this. According to Wired Gareth Edwards had mentioned to his effects crew he was only asking 900 shots when the Hollowood norm now is 200+. The effects crew had replied that his effects shots go on way way longer than normal (almost slomo compared to a Micheal Bay film)

First reveal of Godzilla is an endless tracking shot upwards, and with the brilliant sound design of the roar it made my blood run cold. Fascinating that effects crew abd director have gone right away from the 1998 lizard design back toward a bulkier tradtional design for Godzilla, essentially using £200 million dollars of CGI and Andy Serkis to recreate the effect of a man in a suit

The size and shape of the new Godzilla has provoked some reaction as he is obviously a hefty gent. ​One of the few scientific questions raised about the movie has been 'What does he eat?" - as he seems only interested in physically abusing the MUTOs. One things for sure, whatever Gareth Edwards Godzilla eats, he eats a lot of it.. and lets just for once enjoy a hero that isn't just happy with his weight, he's happy to throw it around for the benefit of the greater good​.

I'll get some exercise

<Thanks 2014 England team for being so lousy I rescued this from the bin to cheer myself up>

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