Picoreview: Godzilla: too long, too loud, and with no reason to stay through the credits. In some regards great (particularly Godzilla itself, which looked and fought like a man in an extremely sophisticated rubber suit, which I mean as a compliment); in others, infuriating.
I’m not, for what it’s worth, an original Godzilla fan, and I went to see it mostly because I lacked the extra ten minutes last night that would have allowed me to go to see a play instead. I paid no attention at all to the trailers beyond seeing them at the theatres, so I have no idea what other people might expect going in.
Extremely large spoilers behind the cut.
First off–okay, first off, the credits are cool. Cool enough to pore over, which I have no doubt will be done, and I look forward to reading all the details when somebody has done that. Tumblr, you’re my only hope.
First off in terms of the actual movie, though, I don’t even know why they bothered to put Juliette Binoche in the credits or trailers, as she basically comes on screen, has five lines, and dies. So basically they lost me there, you know? I was like no, they’re not going to kill her that fast when they featured her in the trai…yes. Yes they are.
The next half hour of the film feature Bryan Cranston obsessing about the nuclear reactor meltdown that killed her while his now-adult son who I don’t remember even seeing in the trailers tries to get him to move on, after which Cranston, whom to me the trailers portrayed as the hero of the film, also dies.
By this time we have essentially wasted 40 minutes of film time that could have been either been made VASTLY more interesting by killing Cranston in the first five minutes and making Binoche the obsessive one, or by cutting the whole fucking thing into a 5 minute montage from the Actual Heroic Son’s point of view. This would have gutted the whole heavy-handed lost-fathers-and-sons theme that ran through the film, but I can’t say it would have been too much of a loss.
What redemptive qualities the first act has are pretty well entirely brought in by Ken Watanabe, whose love for and fascination with the mythological Godzilla is beautiful. A lot of his screen time was wasted, though, with him staring regretfully/longingly/soulfully into the distance at Godzilla, when instead a better screenplay could have had him carrying the film.
There is just way too much monstering. I mean, yes, I get it, it’s a monster movie, but at one point I was sitting there thinking “I’d rather be watching Pacific Rim.” Everything they did could have been done faster with the same impact, instead of scenes dragging on and on and on and on and on and on and on.
Once Godzilla makes landfall, there’s a bit with the hero’s wife (played by Elizabeth Olson, whom I spent the whole film thinking “who is that, she looks familiar, I should know who it is,” until the credits when I went “oh, I was recognizing the twins and couldn’t quite map to her”) making what struck me as an excrutiatingly stupid decision: the hero was supposed to be there at dawn, he’s late, they’re evacuating the city, and she…sends her son off with her boss (she’s a nurse) and stays behind. ‘To help’, we are told, except everybody gets shoved into shelters at that point and there’s no helping going on. And I just cannot. see. abandoning the terrified 5 year old. in order to wait for the husband. It ties into the whole fucking fathers-and-sons theme and to no small degree the sacrificial mother, echoing Binoche’s death, but I’m *sorry*, if the whole thing had gone south that decision *orphaned* their child, whereas if she’d gone with him and Our Hero died at least he would still have his mother.
As it happened, they both survived. But I thought it was a bullshit choice.
Anyway. There was a good 90 minute movie in that 130 minute bloat.