May 17, 2014

Shadowcon Mini-Views- Godzilla (2014)

Yeah, we're talking about this.

Because you can't see a film about a giant lizard fighting two other giant lizards and then not blog about that shit!

There are spoilers in here, so if you haven't seen the movie and want to be surprised, read no further.

Right off the bat, I want to talk about the style and tone of this film, because these are two crucial elements that the director and the writers play with throughout the movie in order to make it seem more "old school". Much of the first two acts have very little Godzilla in them, and when we do see him, he's obscured by smoke or debris, giving us a very gripping tension and build-up that just works. Most of the time, we're seeing this play out from the humans' perspective, but unlike Michael Bay and the Transformers films' camera work, or lack of it, here it doesn't feel like the camera is deliberately trying to not show us the monsters, but rather that we are seeing what the humans are seeing, and the humans can only see so much of the monsters.

The tone of this thing is very ominous and hellacious. The amount of damage done to the San Francisco Bay is just insane, and there are many scenes where it really feels like these monsters are actually there in the city. The bleakness of the military as they try to stop these things is very palpable, and the sheer scale of all of this makes everything believable (to a degree, of course) and gives us one of the tallest Godzillas, and certainly the most badass out of all of his film incarnations (in my opinion, anyway).

So, characters? What a joke! And really, that's as it should be; this film knows that it's not a character piece, and I'd much rather a film be honest about what it is rather than try to manipulate you into thinking it's something more. This is obviously first and foremost (and some would argue only, though I hope that doesn't come across as having negative connotations) an action kaiju movie, and the characters in here really exist to serve the plot. And the plot of this is very simple, but surprisingly tight in a film like this. I liked the ties back to the original '54 film and how the nuke testings were trying to kill Godzilla, and the plans that the characters come up with are logical and enacted well. It makes the modern-day setting feel natural and consistent in-universe, which is really cool.

While the action for the most part is very good at immersing you in the experience, at some points I was taken out of the movie. This happened primarily with the wide shots of the giant monsters fighting each other, and especially when we see them on the television screens of hospitals and stuff like that. They didn't seem like they had mass behind them, nor did they move in any way that suggested that they were as big as they looked. However, this only happened a couple times, and when the camera is at human-level and pointing up, the in-universe physics remembers to keep the kaiju monsters believably slow-moving while still conveying a required sense of awe and super powerfulness!

In the end, Godzilla is a worthwhile action flick that remains faithful to its source material while injecting enough humanity into the work to give it a life of its own rather than feeling like a mere ripoff of films past. See this movie; it's a visual treat with a surprisingly nice plot to justify the visuals and the action!

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