Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. Before starting this review I must own is for my August blind spot pick and as you know it is September. This is the first time in 68 months of this project I have been late. I just got back from a trip to visit friends in Texas and combined with a very busy month reviewing movies I let it slip away and not get done. Not that anyone cares but myself! I like being consistent in my posts but things like this happen to the best of us!
So here goes!
This month for Blind Spot we are talking about the classic monster movie, Godzilla, from 1954. I have seen the modern Godzilla movies like this year’s Godzilla vs Kong but have never seen any of the classics. I’m not sure why but it’s true!
Check out my friend Alexander Robinson’s channel for tons of great Godzilla content
So what did I think of the original Godzilla film from Toho Studios in 1954? I quite enjoyed it. More than I was expecting to be honest! Like King Kong, the film’s stop motion animation/suitmation has a charm to it that the hyper-realism of today’s CGI can’t match. I also love the black and white cinematography and the simple, clean message told throughout.
It definitely surprised me how little Godzilla appears in the film. A lot of people complained about that in the recent 2014 version of Godzilla(including myself) but if they were basing off of this original film I can see why they kept him rather sparse. The only difference between this and 2014 is the Godzilla action is more consistent throughout the film where in 2014 it all comes at the end.
The new films struggle to integrate the human characters with Godzilla (especially King of the Monsters, which was so stupid). They do a much better job with in that regard here. I particularly liked Momoko Kōchi as Emiko the female who is torn between the 2 scientists Ogata and Serizawa. She reminded me a lot of Sally Hawkin’s character in The Shape of Water and wouldn’t be surprised if Guillermo del Toro took some inspiration from her (he is a big Godzilla fan obviously by his own kaiju film Pacific Rim. I liked Emiko because she was a damsel in distress without being useless and annoying as the archetype often is. It shows characters can be archetypes without being morons.
If you think about the anti-nuclear warfare message of Godzilla (1954) it must have been especially poignant back in 1954 when World War II was so fresh in the Japanese consciousness. What might seem like dumb fun to us now was probably all too real a fear for moviegoers then. When Serizawa struggles to give the oxygen destroyer to the people because it might be used as a superweapon that is only too real for 1954 audiences.
I do think I enjoy King Kong more than Godzilla because we get more invested in Kong’s story compared to Godzilla. When Kong is chained up and put on display it’s so devastating and I didn’t feel that kind of connection to Godzilla.
Still I can understand why they have been constantly trying to remake Godzilla 1954. It’s a great film and manages to combine spectacle with message extremely well- not an easy task to do. If you haven’t seen it I recommend watching it on HBO Max or as part of the Godzilla collection from Criterion.
Going into the latest CGI Monsterverse film Godzilla: King of the Monsters I knew I was fighting an uphill battle. Monster movies are generally not my favorite movies, and I haven’t enjoyed either of the last 2 in this franchise. However, I assumed at least the visuals would look good so it would be entertaining on the IMAX. Sadly I was mistaken. It looks like the response is quite divisive on the film but I thought it was awful. You may love it but it was not for me. That’s for sure.
There are so many problems with Godzilla: King of the Monsters but let me go over a few that especially stuck out. The first and least important problem is the asinine script with characters making nonsensical choices. Yes it’s a dumb monster movie, but we spend a lot of time with these people, so it would be nice if it was at least semi-coherent and logical. Especially Vera Farmiga’s character was a giant continual face palm.
Second, I’ve long complained that action movies have become one long set of sequences of characters staring at screens. This is no exception. Almost every scene with the humans they are either looking at a glass encasement or staring at a screen. This is not interesting or exciting. Towards the end we have some emotional scenes with characters but they feel under-served because we haven’t gotten to know them beyond seeing them stare at screens.
Finally, and most surprising, is the disappointing visuals. I think you can see from this gif how cloudy and murky the cinematography is. Every scene is raining and dark so you can’t see what is happening. To make matters worse the point of view is often from the ground up which is difficult when trying to see the action of these big creatures. The editing is also absolutely awful. The fight scenes are constantly cutting away into extreme closeups and mid-shots. Very rarely do you get a good wide shot to really see the fights or the full creatures. Isn’t that why we are there to see monsters fighting?
It wasn’t a big surprise to me when I found out one of the 3 co-editors is the editor for Transformers: the Last Night and Transformers: Age of Extinction- two of the worst edited films I’ve ever seen. And then the cinematographer usually does comedies like The Hangover. It was truly baffling.
Another annoying aspect is millions of people are dying in scenes in Mexico, San Francisco and Boston, and yet we only seem to care about a handful of humans. It reminded me of San Andreas where the only person the screenplay cares about is The Rock’s daughter and everyone else can die. I think most people would be a little upset if the world was being annihilated and there was mass carnage? Call me crazy. Like I said Vera Farmiga (and Charles Dance) characters were especially bad in this regard.
The only comparison I can make is with 2017’s Geostorm but that film had more of a spirit of fun about it than Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the visuals were fine. This was just a badly made film. You might enjoy it and I hope you do but it’s definitely not for me, and I think I’m done with this Monsterverse for the foreseeable future.
I recommend seeing the Chinese film The Wandering Earth instead. It’s on Netflix and provides much better nutty spectacle than anything you’ll get here
Overall 2014 has been a great year for movies. I haven’t seen every movie by a long shot but I have seen my fair share. I am still planning on seeing Annie, Into the Woods and Interstellar but I figured I’d go ahead with this post anyway. I will do posts on those movies and add an addendum to this post in the notes.
Remember this is just my opinion. If you liked movies I didn’t than that is awesome. I want people to enjoy their time at the movies, so if you saw value in something that I didn’t I think that is great. If I liked something you didn’t I hope you can respect my opinion.