Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Godzilla" (2014) d/ Gareth Edwards

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Remember Hollywood's last attempt at tapping Toho's rich Gojira-vein back in '98? You know, the one with Ferris Bueller and the computer-generated iguana that sent the schiziest hardcore traditional Goji fans into a frothing rage? Naturally, the backlash of angry fans still shitting on that particular take would offset Tinseltown's desperation for revenue and warrant no further attempts in the future, one would think,  right? Riiiight. Here's the latest big budgeted cash grab from Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers, a repetitive, lobotomized re-imagining of Tokyo's greatest menace that easy-to-please mainstream audiences will (continue to) devour barehandedly at the box office, while leaving those hardcore G fans I mentioned earlier, feeling pretty ripped off in the end.

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"Spock, are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation loose in there!"
For what seems like two hours or so, we're treated to recycled human drama concerning a physicist named Brody (Bryan Cranston), who watches helplessly as his wife dies like Spock in The Wrath of Khan, and obsesses for fifteen years over the true cause of the nuclear tragedy only to get squashed in the aftermath of an improbable-looking winged M.U.T.O., or Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organism, even though it's more of a M.U.F(lying).O., when you really think about it. The thing hatches out of an enormous chrysalis that's discovered when a mine in the Philippines collapses to reveal the fossilized skeleton of something massive. Meanwhile, there's the hint of impressive back spikes breaking the surf, and a few bird's eye views of the destruction wake left by colossal animate objects (okay, there's a lot more than a few), but no Godzilla, though.

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"Don't skydive directly into a giant kaiju battle, whatever you do, son.", warns Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston).
After ten or fifteen lengthy snooze-worthy chunks (I must've caught myself dozing off about that many times along the way) of exposition involving Joe's son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Naval Officer whose family is separated from him amid all the creature-based chaos, and the back story of Gojira, an ancient god among prehistoric predators, etc. , etc., Big G finally makes the scene, and sixty years of dormancy haven't been kind to everyone's favorite atomic breathed lizard, as his latest incarnation is grossly overweight with stumpy legs and arms and a boxy head with no great abundance of teeth. It's no surprise then, that Tokubetsu-Goji (my own prefix, I confess)  gets manhandled at great lengths by two M.U.T.O.s, the larger female noticeably pregnant with eggs, before finally tail-swatting the pesky winged male against a skyscraper and decapitating the female with an atomic blast down her throat. In the end, Godzilla, thought to be dead, revives suddenly and makes for the ocean, with the people of the world declaring him a savior, despite the massive destruction and death he's been responsible for, of course, and young Ford is reunited with his family. Grab your popcorn, we're outta here.

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"Me? Godzilla? Naaaaaah, I'm just a harmless islet over here."
On the positive side, the cast handles the material pretty well, and the cg kaiju scrap in the final reel, but it takes forever for the viewer to get there, after miles worth of unnecessary jibber-jabber and a painfully slow reveal of a creature that the audience already has a pretty good idea of (thirty plus movies worth, by my count), unless they've been living down an abandoned mine shaft for the last sixty years. Aesthetically, I hated all of the kaiju designs, with most contempt saved for Godzilla, himself. He hasn't looked this goofy since he was seen with Minya riding on his tail back in 1967, in my opinion. I'm done talking about it, for now. A half-step up from Bueller-zilla. One Wop.

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"Tokubetsu-Goji want potato!"
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