Sunday, May 18, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

Director Gareth Edwards' sophomore feature-length debut is a reverent rumination of nature's unstoppable power. That central theme necessarily puts puny humans on the sidelines, from high-ranking military officials seeking to contain monsters to ordinary folks just trying to survive the onslaught. At its heart, Godzilla is about forces beyond our control, so slap on those 3D glasses and prepare to cheer for the baddest alpha predator to ever curb-stomp radioactive menaces.

The film opens with ominous music and footage: black-and-white clips of submaries, nuclear tests, and words being crossed out -- censored -- until only the cast names appear. Cut to a chopper in a gloriously beautiful location -- the Philippines, naturally -- and out comes Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his colleague Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), both employees of a company called Monarch. An accident has revealed an ancient cavern, with two enormous cocoon-like structures: one intact, the other...not.

In Japan, engineering supercouple Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche) try to find the source of the tremors rocking their nuclear power plant. Bad things happen.

Fifteen years laters, Brody's son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) must travel to Japan because reasons. Once Ford and Joe are arrested by Monarch's security teams, the movie kicks into high gear and the rest of the time flies by. I shan't spoil it further.

I will say that this is a very welcome movie after the awful Roland Emmerich interpretation back in 1998. That one is so bad that even IMDB's auto-complete search bar refuses to display it -- you have to click on "more results" to get to it. Edwards' Godzilla, while a little lacking on basic explanations about the titular character, gets it right: when faced with creatures that can level entire cities just by walking around, the best-laid plans of mice and men mean zilch. When this event happens -- and believe me, Godzilla rising out of the depths is an event -- you just GTFO. While a few human actions do turn out to be effective, most of the time it's best to leave it to the spiky bug guy. He is awesome.

This movie's cinematography and soundtrack are amazing. Nothing underscores technology's impotence in the face of nature quite like fighter jets plummeting helplessly from the sky. And the use of Gy├Ârgy Ligeti's "Requiem For Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs And Orchestra" during one sequence is particularly arresting.

Bottom line: Of course go watch it. It's Godzilla.

This post brought to you by Oscar the cat, whose rendition of "O Sole Mio" at 6:30 am is...moving.

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)