Thursday, May 15, 2014
When the critical consensus of your giant monster movie is that the humans are boring, it means you've probably made a good giant monster movie.
This is one of those times I don't have a great deal to add to what everyone's saying. Yes, the movie spends too much time playing with the monsters' food. Yes, it would be better if they'd given us another hour of monsters fighting. Yes, I appreciate that would have cost an extra $150 million they didn't have.
All that means the movie isn't perfect. Fortunately, the title character pretty much is. If you want a compelling human drama, go see something else; if you want to watch Godzilla beat the snot out of a couple other monsters, well then... have I got some good news for you.
Like most in this genre, the majority of the movie is spent ramping up to the big fight. Monsters definitely make appearances, but there's far more exposition than attacks. I think we're meant to develop emotional attachments to these small, fleshy creatures, but it's just not going to happen.
Fortunately, these sections are somewhat salvaged by atmosphere and tone. The movie builds to each visual reveal, and the payoffs are more than worth the wait. Godzilla is, of course, awesome, but so are the two new monsters. They're called "MUTO's," which is - admittedly - a stupid name for kaiju, but they look absolutely awesome. More importantly, the monsters look as though Toho is in their DNA. They're all computer generated, but their designs evoke old monster movies. To put it another way, the designs could have been used in a suitmation production with minimal changes. As a result, they still feel like they're part of the same world.
As for Godzilla, it's all about his personality. And this is absolutely the King of Monsters at his best. This portrayal reminds me a great deal of Godzilla 2000: a sort of amalgamation of the 70's hero and the earlier, angry version.
It's good to see America redeem itself after the 98 debacle. Hopefully, this will make enough to justify a sequel with a larger budget. The movie could have been a half hour shorter without losing anything, but even at two hours, it was a lot of fun.