Monday, 26 May 2014

Godzilla is BIG - but the Clichés are Bigger...


So, Friday night I went to see the new Godzilla film (a.k.a. Godzilla 2014). Having seen the trailer for it, I was pretty excited to see a monster/disaster film on the big screen.

Well, here are some things I liked about the film:
  1. Excellent visual effects
  2. Bryan Cranston
  3. Excellent music
  4. Bryan Cranston
  5. Great action sequences not completely given away by the trailer
  6. Bryan Cranston
  7. Godzilla's roar
  8. Bryan Cranston
However, despite still enjoying the film, I didn't enjoy it half as much as I thought I would. See, there were a few problems I had with it, some with the film itself and some with how the film vastly differs from the trailer (in a less "kindly avoiding spoilers" way and a more "slightly misleading the audience" way). I'd like to share those things now, but BEWARE - SPOILERS ABOUND!!!

So, these are my problems with the film:

  • Bryan Cranston's character features HEAVILY throughout the trailer, but he actually dies in the first half of the film. HE NEVER EVEN SEES GODZILLA.
    "I don't see Godzilla?!"
    • This is especially annoying as he's easily the strongest actor in this film, the most interesting character, etc.
    • I understand that the filmmakers don't want to give away the fact that he dies, but instead of just featuring for a bit in the trailer, he is put across as the main character when he isn't the main character at all (and it's really disappointing as soon as you realise that when watching the film).
    • If you don't want us thinking he's the main character, then just use his narration instead of putting tonnes of action shots of him in it.
  • He's replaced by his son, a blue-eyed, perfect-bone-structured all-American-soldier type-character.
    America! FUCK YEAH!!!
    • This guy is in the trailer, but he literally looks like an extra in every shot he's in except for a couple, including one with Cranston; even then he looks like a side character. He says nothing in the trailer & is hardly focused on, yet the is the central character of the film. 

"They know I'm the main character, right dad?"
    • Our focus is on him even more than Godzilla. Yeah, screw the massive monster, here's a soldier! You've never seen one of those before!
    • The actor (Aaron Taylor Johnson) seems half decent, but it's hard to tell because this character is a complete cardboard cutout of every white all-american-hero-type characters. Completely one dimensional.
  • The trailer shows the Statue of Liberty, which we never see.
Don't worry, she's 'armless...
    • For the whole film I was being a complete numpty, wondering when we were going to get to New York, only to never get there & never see the Statue of Liberty, leaving me confused. I realised immediately afterwards that it was obviously the Vegas mini Statue of Liberty, but I didn't realise until I stopped to think after the film, because that shot is never actually shown in the film (at least not the cut I saw!).
  • Godzilla is not in the film enough
    • Yo, I came to see a Godzilla film, not an advert for the American Military or the white American nuclear family
    • Even just glimpses, anything. Just more giant-t-rex-slash-stegosaurus-thing-with-atomic-breath please.
"I demand more screen time!!!"
    • 2 white nuclear families at the centre of everything, Cranston's & then his son's: 
      • Dad, mum (or mom) & son.
    • The main character just happens to always be at the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place at the right time)
      • When the nuclear plant gets destroyed, he witnesses it & both his parents happen to be working there as super important people
      • When the Mothra-type creature first emerges, he's there
      • When the Mothra-type creature is in Hawaii, he's on the passenger train it crashes/derails
      • When the Mothra-type creature is in the US, he's on the rail bridge it destroys
      • He ends up being the ONLY PERSON who knows how to disable the bomb
      • He is included in the super-dangerous mission
      • He is the only one that thinks to destroys the evil squiggly eggs with a big fiery explosion
      • Because he stayed back to kill the eggs, he's the only person that doesn't get killed on the boat by mummy-Mothra and has to drive the boat out by himself, the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. *violins play*
    • The main character's family just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place at the right time)
      • Johnson's family are in the EXACT city where the monsters are all converging
      • Johnson's son gets on the bus to safety at the LAST MINUTE
      • Johnson's son is on the Golden Gate Bridge at the EXACT MOMENT Godzilla destroys it, but the bus gets to the other side just in time!!
      • Johnson's wife, played by Elizabeth Olsen, gets safely into the subway stations at the last minute, just late enough to see a glimpse of Godzilla roaring behind her
    • Godzilla stops the main character being killed JUST IN TIME. Twice I think.
    • Whenever there is imminent danger, the camera zooms into the face of an innocent child.
    • Whenever there is imminent danger, the first person to notice anything is an innocent child.
    • Dog barking at then running away from imminent danger
"Shit, shit, shit, shit... I really should learn to not bark and just run..."
    • Main character ends up looking after a lost child during a major disaster.
    • Lost child then runs away from the main character immediately after the disaster, but it's totally fine for them to run away this time, because it's because they saw their parents. Immediately frees up main character for the next part of the story.
    • Mother tells child to "turn that TV off" when it's breaking news of a crazy imminent disaster that will directly involve them later in the film.
    • Main character gets saved at the last minute & is happily reunited with his family, all of whom are totally safe.
    • People do everything wrong:
      • they ignore the advice of the people who studied the creatures for years who say they feed off of anything radioactive
      • instead they just exacerbate the situation by trying to bomb the shit out of the monsters with nuclear weapons, only to end up pretty much handing them their food source on a platter, with tonnes of deaths in the process
      • they have no idea that Godzilla is the good guy even though it ends up being obvious about half way through
  • Some not-quite-common-but-still-stupid-clichés that also annoyed me
    • American soldier just back from military duty, suddenly has to rush off the very next day despite saying to his young son that he'll definitely still be there in the morning
    • Son disbelieving of his father's "conspiracy theories" only for them to ultimately and overwhelmingly be proved right 
"What was that about 'moving on' from my 'conspiracy theories', son?"
    • Father dies immediately after being proved right & son admits that he was wrong; takes his place in the film, taking up his father's mantle to make up for not believing him for years
    • Enthusiastic & friendly Hispanic American solder introduced by name & put as a sidekick to the main white character, only to inevitably be killed about 20 minutes later.
    • Stupid eye-contact between Johnson's character and the monsters as he "connects" with them
      • The mummy-Mothra-type creature looks into the eyes of Johnson's character because somehow she KNOWS it was him out of all the humans in the area that killed all her babies. She f*cking KNOWS.
      • Godzilla gives him sad eyes when he's injured, just in case it wasn't obvious enough already that Godzilla is totally not the bad guy.
    • BBBWWWAAAAAAWWWWHHHHH music that apparently has to be in EVERY DARK SCIFI/COMIC BOOK FILM NOW thanks to Inception.
  • Focusing on only one family causes problems:
    • means that everything feels extra scripted rather than natural (see list of clichés above, showing how they end up awkwardly forcing the narrative around the central character instead of the monsters & disasters caused by them)
    • the massive destruction doesn't seem as massive because, as the main family aren't there to aim the camera from, you mostly see it from news helicopter cameras in the sky, not the people down below - except for the tidal wave sequence in Hawaii, that was done pretty well
This also worked well, although it just felt like there weren't enough people on the
 bridge, just cars. You'd think more people would be running by this point!
    • nearly zero characterisation of any other members of the public affected because: 
      • you see most of the damage done from a distance on news feeds, so the people just seem like ants
More shots like this would've helped to keep perspective of size & show
the public view, not just the news & military & one main character
      • if any of the main family is there, the focus is on them rather than anyone else
      • isn't as harrowing to watch as you feel it should be because you don't feel as connected to any other members of the public, and watching this stuff in a film is not the same as seeing it on the news in real life. 
      • something awful happens but then the film immediately rushes onto something else, so the awfulness of what happened doesn't have time to sink in
    • The family the movie focuses on are so boring, such cardboard-cutouts, that I literally didn't care if any of them died.
      • I'm usually someone who is all "RUUUNN!!!" in disaster/monster films, but that really didn't happen to me in this one. I was happy to just sit & watch things unfold, uncaring about what happened to them (good or bad), which is really unlike me.
I wanted to know more about these two!
  • I thought Godzilla was supposed to be a representation of America by Japanese filmmakers? A sleeping giant awoken by Pearl Harbour to destroy Japan?
    • Way to shoot torpedoes at your own representation, America...
    • Is that why you did the whole "oh but see, he's really a good guy!" thing?
  • At the end of the film, everyone seems totally fine, except for a few casualties lying down in beds, people with crappy bandages and people pulling themselves out of the rubble; it just seems so meh and fake.
  • And I can't fully comment on the cheesiness at the very end of the film, because the picture cut out in our cinema about 1 minute before the end.
Anyway, those are just some thoughts I decided to spew out into a post. Ultimately the film was enjoyable, but my boyfriend and I actively had to stop ourselves from laughing out loud or openly groaning at some of the stuff that happened in this film.

This wasn't a monster/disaster film. This was a DISASTER of a monster film!!

(Just kidding, I just really wanted to put in a bad film-critic pun somewhere...)

Godzilla was good, and the monsters were fantastically designed and animated & I love that the trailer didn't give the whole story away (although I'm still annoyed about the whole Cranston thing), but after about 1/3 of the way through it just got very... bland.

EDIT: Thought I'd pop in a link to MovieBob's review. Yup, he thought the same things as me.


  1. Godzilla has for a long time been kind of a strange anti-hero monster, defending Japan from monster attack after monster attack. This new film is actually quite close in tone and spirit to a lot of those earlier films (and nothing like that terrible American film in 1997/1998 that nobody wants to remember). I think a lot of the people that didn't like it seemed to be expecting something other than a traditional Godzilla film, but this is exactly what Gareth Edwards delivered.

    1. That side (the "ooo Godzilla is an anti-hero!" side) I really liked, especially as it seemed to fit the original Godzilla films' themes. I liked that he was first the villain & then turned out to actually be the one to save them, even if he did unthinkingly kill thousands of people in the process...

      What I didn't like was the awful character-driven narrative surrounding it to pad it out. All the people in it were just "meh". I agree with MovieBob on how the "build up" to the big fight is just dull rather than suspenseful & that the main character should've been Ken Watanabe's interesting & insightful scientist character (and he probably was, initially), not the cut-&-copy American soldier with zero character and his cut-&-copy family.

      Or they should've not just killed Cranston's way-more-interesting-than-anyone-&-would-make-an-awesome-team-with-Watanabe.

      Also, I liked the 90s Godzilla film, but that's probably 'cause I was a kid & I liked dinosaurs & New

  2. Agreed on practically everything you said :P

    Also noted how at the end when Godzilla seemingly comes back to life, he just waltzes through part of the city on the way to the sea probably killing many more people but it's fine because he's the hero who helped save millions of human lives.

  3. You'd just wish that after Pacific Rim, and I know that everyone has said this and it's a different style of movie but still, that they would show the monster more in a film about a monster. It's fine to build tension and develop the human characters, but when the end result is visually brilliant, but lacking in all other departments, it makes you think we've gone back a couple of steps since Pacific Rim.