Thursday, May 22, 2014

Not Really Off-Topic (!?!)- GODZILLA Review *MILD Spoiler Alert*

I saw the new GODZILLA film last Friday, and it was good. Not great, not as great as some are making it out to be, but good. They kept very closely to the older approach to the Godzilla films, with the main character acting more as protector and vehicle's for Mother Nature's desire for balance than an evil Cthulu-like figure. Though there is something Lovecraftian about the giant lizard.

Aesthetically, the film did a good job modernizing Godzilla's look without abandoning what made the character look so cool in the past. This was definitely Godzilla and not a giant Chicken Iguana, a la the 1998 debacle. The acting was good enough, though the only actor to do a truly great job was Brian Cranston, who was in the film for about 1/4th of the entire movie. Cranston's acting is so good it really elevated the entire film and it stood out among the average to slightly above average performances of those around him.

The special effects were excellent, and this really felt like an attempt to take the classic monster film and make it as realistic as possible. They did a good job building up the tension, and developed the main characters enough so that you actually cared what happens to them when the whole world starts to fall apart. However, once the monster appeared the storytelling gets a little disjointed and at times I wasn't sure the director knew exactly what he wanted the film to be. The middle is a bit boring and creative editing could've really elevated this film. There was greatness here, it just needed to be mined a little more. As it is, the middle ends up dragging because it lacks a clear direction, and many of the actors' performances seem to suffer from this. The last action sequence is very, very good and the final monster battle hit all the right notes. The ending was superb, and the overall film was enjoyable and definitely worth watching in the theaters.

As I watched this film I couldn't help but think about the apocalyptic scale of it all. The feeling of being the victim of various forces, of being caught between two cosmic forces and the fear that engenders, even when one of the forces is benevolent. When Superman fights Zod or Darkseid, and an entire building is destroyed, Supes can't worry about the people in that one building, much as he wants to me. Superman will take a kitten down from a tree but in the midst of fighting cosmic forces, no one life can take precedence over stopping the evil that the other side represents. Superman knows that his powers are godlike, and the beings he faces are as powerful or more powerful than he. Questioning or worrying about one individual group can distract him at a key moment which will cost so much more. When good has to respond to evil with combat, collateral damage is inevitable. The evil visited upon those caught in the middle is not something God is indifferent to, but there are more pressing concerns in the heat of battle.

The combat myth reigns here. The question is raised in the film whether Godzilla is a god or a monster. God's seeming indifference may look monstrous to some here on Earth, but if it is the inevitable result of God doing what God can to stop a greater evil, if God truly has bigger concerns that nonetheless matter supremely to us, then we should think about cutting him some slack.

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