I used to go to the movies all the time. As I’ve gotten older however, I find myself going less and less. For one thing I have less time and for another the prices are a little high in my mind. In the last three or four years I have only seen about five movies in the theater. I saw Avatar and Alice In Wonderland in 2010, The Avengers in 2012, This Is The End in 2013, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year. I’ve wanted to see numerous films during that time, but those were the only ones I actually got up and went out to see.
Tonight I decided to treat myself to Godzilla. I loved Godzilla as a child, and I passed that love on to my son who has taken it to new heights. He went opening weekend to catch the new Godzilla. I went two weeks later. I had initially planned to go see A Million Ways To Die In The West, but tonight was the last night for Godzilla in 3D, so the big lizard won out.
I took the family to the premiere of the 1998 Godzilla. In fact we got there early enough to catch Quest For Camelot first. When Godzilla 2000 hit, I took my son. This time I went alone. And I would have been alone in the theater as well were it not for one other couple that decided to take in Godzilla at the last minute. They arrived loudly during the previews and stayed loud throughout. They must have thought they were at home in their living room because they weren’t whispering. They were speaking in regular conversation voices. They were also smoking as well. In the course of the 2 hour movie they lit up at least twice as the smell drifted down to me and irritated my asthma and COPD.
But what about the actual movie? I guess Internet protocol states that I have to warn you there are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen Godzilla and don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Okay, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. This is meant to be a more serious take on Godzilla. It is not as campy as the ones from my childhood and there is no humor in it. Another thing this Bryan Cranston starring Godzilla film was incredibly light on was Bryan Cranston and Godzilla. Cranston’s character is killed off in the first third of the movie and Godzilla doesn’t really surface until the final third. We get lots of the guy from Kick Ass, who doesn’t show much range of emotion. His whole story is trying to get home from Japan to his wife and son in San Francisco. He’s spent his whole life thinking his dad was a crackpot and when he learns his dad was right all along and the military has been covering things up, his reaction is essentially to shrug his shoulders and carry on. Elizabeth Olsen as his wife on the other hand seems to be constantly on the verge of tears. Tears of joy that her husband is back, tears of frustration because something happened in Japan and she can’t reach him to check on him, tears of desperation because in the midst of a giant monster slugfest her husband who is working with the military on an atomic bomb hasn’t managed to check in or arrive at their designated meeting point. And speaking of meeting points. Kick Ass finds out that the military is going to use a nuclear bomb off the coast of San Francisco to try and kill some giant monsters that eat radioactive material and tend to destroy any city they get close to. When he talks to his wife in San Francisco does he tell her to take their son and get the hell out of town? Go visit the biggest ball of twine up in the Northeast? No. He tells her to wait there at the hospital for him. The hospital in San Francisco right in the path of the monsters and near the possible nuclear bomb detonation point because nothing could possibly go wrong with a plan that involves nuclear weapons and giant freaking monsters. That’s like telling someone to go hide in the ocean because Jaws is coming. Think I’ll take my chances in the top of a skyscraper unless the weatherman is calling for sharknados.
The other major cast members include Ken Watanabe, who has mastered the art of staring out in the distance with a sorrowful concerned look, David Strathairn as an admiral that really doesn’t do a whole lot, and Sally Hawkins as Watanabe’s research partner. Hawkins is also under-utilized. In fact her role could have easily been combined with Watanabe’s if he didn’t need someone to stay focused on the here and now while he takes those long soulful stares out beyond the horizon.
As for the titular star, Godzilla, he looks better than ever except he’s put on a little weight. Actually it appears to be a larger chest area, so maybe he was working out and abusing steroids instead of gaining weight. It’s a long way away from the super sleek iguana of the ’98 version. The new monsters, a male and female MUTO looked much better than I expected. The toys made them look like an M shaped beastie with a claw on each long leg. They are much neater than that. They are nowhere near as messed up looking as Megalon or Gigan, but a little more dynamic than Rodan or Mothra.
I can’t say that I loved the movie. It’s not my favorite Godzilla movie by a long shot. It’s probably about number 4 or 5 out of the other five films I mentioned at the top. Definitely over Alice In Wonderland. Probably over This Is The End. Possibly over Avatar.