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Friday 30 May 2014

Burl reviews Godzilla! (2014)

Ha ha, with a honk and a roar, it’s Burl, here to review what is becoming an annual tradition for me: the big summer monster movie! After all, last year I reviewed Pacific Rim, and some time before that, Super 8! This year, to get my fix of big, lumbering, city-stomping beasts, the natural choice was Godzilla!
I’m not a devoted fan of the Godzilla pictures, though I did see both Godzilla 1985 and that stinky 1998 version in the theatre! And of course you all know of my admiration for War of the Gargantuas! But I’ve only seen a few of the Toho pictures, and have yet to sit down and properly watch the charcoal-black Japanese version of the original film! (I plan to rectify that soon, ha ha!) They always seemed mainly like kiddie films to me, I guess!
But when this one came along, I couldn’t help but beetle off to the cinema to check it out! Now, my favourite part of all these pictures (that is to say, disaster movies and monster-attack films) is the build-up, when strange things are happening, and mysterious but still relatively small-scale disasters are plaguing the area! I also like when you can see that, somewhere off in the distance, just over those hills or on the other side of those big buildings, something incredibly destructive is occurring! And let me tell you, ha ha, Godzilla offers a great deal of this stuff!
Now remember, I saw Godzilla 1985 in the theatre, so this picture had a pretty high bar to clear! The beginning of the movie, where a man played by Bryan Cranston, well-known from Dead Space and, I must say, one of the bigger hambones working today, suffers a workplace disaster that claims the life of his beloved wife, Juliette Binoche, the Gallic performer familiar from Clouds of Sils Maria and many other pictures! After that Cranston gets a good deal of screen time to devote to his famous overacting, and his young son grows into a bomb dismantler named Ford, who is played by one of the least expressive actors since Lundgren!
Well, eventually there’s monster action again, and Ford becomes a sort of monster Forrest Gump, always around when the critical events are taking place! Ha ha! The plot mainly has a couple of monsters which, according to the complicated backstory, are the spawn of Mothra and Rodan, making their way to San Francisco in order to be married! (Ha ha, the Mothra/Rodan connection was a pretty canny way of inserting maximum Toho mythos in there, so congrats filmmakers!) And Godzilla shows up to ruin the wedding night, because as a stone-faced Ken Watanabe observes, his function is to redress nature’s balance! (I therefore assume his next stop will be the head offices of Monsanto, ha ha!)
Anyway, there’s plenty of spectacle here, and even better, there’s not as much spectacle as there might have been, since we often don’t get to see the full battles and the toppling of buildings! It’s more realistic that way, and demonstrates that there was some actual thought put into the staging of all this mayhem! Viewers such as myself truly appreciate that, ha ha!
It’s hardly a brilliant picture, but for a summer action monster spectacular, it’s pretty darn good! I congratulate the filmmakers and hope they’re able to keep a good thing going in the inevitable sequels! I give Godzilla two and a half pointless red smoke trails!

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