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17 May 2014 @ 11:57 am
Picoreview: Godzilla  

Picoreview: Godzilla: too long, too loud, and with no reason to stay through the credits. In some regards great (particularly Godzilla itself, which looked and fought like a man in an extremely sophisticated rubber suit, which I mean as a compliment); in others, infuriating.

I’m not, for what it’s worth, an original Godzilla fan, and I went to see it mostly because I lacked the extra ten minutes last night that would have allowed me to go to see a play instead. I paid no attention at all to the trailers beyond seeing them at the theatres, so I have no idea what other people might expect going in.

Extremely large spoilers behind the cut.

First off–okay, first off, the credits are cool. Cool enough to pore over, which I have no doubt will be done, and I look forward to reading all the details when somebody has done that. Tumblr, you’re my only hope.

First off in terms of the actual movie, though, I don’t even know why they bothered to put Juliette Binoche in the credits or trailers, as she basically comes on screen, has five lines, and dies. So basically they lost me there, you know? I was like no, they’re not going to kill her that fast when they featured her in the trai…yes. Yes they are.

The next half hour of the film feature Bryan Cranston obsessing about the nuclear reactor meltdown that killed her while his now-adult son who I don’t remember even seeing in the trailers tries to get him to move on, after which Cranston, whom to me the trailers portrayed as the hero of the film, also dies.

By this time we have essentially wasted 40 minutes of film time that could have been either been made VASTLY more interesting by killing Cranston in the first five minutes and making Binoche the obsessive one, or by cutting the whole fucking thing into a 5 minute montage from the Actual Heroic Son’s point of view. This would have gutted the whole heavy-handed lost-fathers-and-sons theme that ran through the film, but I can’t say it would have been too much of a loss.

What redemptive qualities the first act has are pretty well entirely brought in by Ken Watanabe, whose love for and fascination with the mythological Godzilla is beautiful. A lot of his screen time was wasted, though, with him staring regretfully/longingly/soulfully into the distance at Godzilla, when instead a better screenplay could have had him carrying the film.

There is just way too much monstering. I mean, yes, I get it, it’s a monster movie, but at one point I was sitting there thinking “I’d rather be watching Pacific Rim.” Everything they did could have been done faster with the same impact, instead of scenes dragging on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

Once Godzilla makes landfall, there’s a bit with the hero’s wife (played by Elizabeth Olson, whom I spent the whole film thinking “who is that, she looks familiar, I should know who it is,” until the credits when I went “oh, I was recognizing the twins and couldn’t quite map to her”) making what struck me as an excrutiatingly stupid decision: the hero was supposed to be there at dawn, he’s late, they’re evacuating the city, and she…sends her son off with her boss (she’s a nurse) and stays behind. ‘To help’, we are told, except everybody gets shoved into shelters at that point and there’s no helping going on. And I just cannot. see. abandoning the terrified 5 year old. in order to wait for the husband. It ties into the whole fucking fathers-and-sons theme and to no small degree the sacrificial mother, echoing Binoche’s death, but I’m *sorry*, if the whole thing had gone south that decision *orphaned* their child, whereas if she’d gone with him and Our Hero died at least he would still have his mother.

As it happened, they both survived. But I thought it was a bullshit choice.

Anyway. There was a good 90 minute movie in that 130 minute bloat.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

 
 
 
Amberleyamberley on May 17th, 2014 03:19 pm (UTC)
Godzilla has no Daddy
I am sick unto death of Hollywood's obsession with Father Issues. Thanks for saving me $11; I'll spend it on Patreon instead.

And good lord, is there no one left in Hollywood who understands pacing any more?
kitmizkit on May 17th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Godzilla has no Daddy
I didn't know how sick of that obsession I was until this film, myself. It was just--I mean, really, I'm not one to notice themes. Noticing themes isn't my thing. I'm always like "oh hey wow" when somebody else points out themes in something. But mother of miracles, not even I could miss The Theme there. Ugh.

As for pacing, as far as I can tell, people seem to have it in their heads that longer is better, perhaps to justify the cost of a ticket, I don't know, but it feels like I haven't been to a genuinely well-paced movie in *ages*. I can't really remember the last thing I saw that I wasn't looking at my watch and thinking "toooooo looooong..."
Alix (Tersa): Hazel-Rah (tersa)tersa on May 19th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Godzilla has no Daddy
can't really remember the last thing I saw that I wasn't looking at my watch and thinking "toooooo looooong..."

The last movie I clearly remember like that was Hunt for Red October. First time I saw it, I was amazed it clocked in at 135 minutes. It didn't feel that long at all!

Edited at 2014-05-19 04:50 pm (UTC)
kitmizkit on May 19th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Godzilla has no Daddy
! *does* it? I had no idea. It's so well paced I thought it was much shorter!
Alix (Tersa): Hazel-Rah (tersa)tersa on May 19th, 2014 08:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Godzilla has no Daddy
Exactly! Even at the tender age of 19 when I wasn't nearly as critical about pacing as I am now, I was flabbergasted and enthusiastically appreciative of that feat. In retrospect, I'm even more in awe of it.
irishkateirishkate on May 17th, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
Indeed. Thanks for this. I think I'll wait til I can fast forward through it. And I HATE decisions made like that. No, just no.
Brienzebrienze on May 18th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
“I’d rather be watching Pacific Rim.”

And see, I was thinking, "This is much more watchable than Pacific Rim," because apparently my aversion to the shrieking metal noises that are mandatory in robot movies trumps all other considerations. I didn't think Godzilla was *good*, per se, and it's not a good sign for any movie about which I can think, "This is kinda like Battleship," but I don't feel like I want my 2 hours back.

Have you seen Grabbers, btw? "Drunken Irishmen fight aliens" is the best synopsis since Snakes on A Plane, and the DH and I both kind of adored it, even though we had to turn captioning on to understand the accents. Over here it's on Netflix streaming.