HeadShot Review : Godzilla

CONTAINS SPOILERS, LIES AND BROKEN DREAMS…..

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PROLOGUE:

Odeon Employee: That’ll be £13.80 please.
Me: Haha, £13.80, you’re kidding right?
Odeon Employee: Oh and an extra £1.50 for 3D glasses.
Me: But… but its 2:15pm… on a weekday… and I didn’t even want to see it in 3D, but you’re not showing it in 2D!
Odeon Employee: I know, but we are in London.
Me: Its not like were at an Imax in Leicester fucking Square, so do I get to watch it in my own private bungalow, or in a hot tub receiving a Swedish massage or is this just for standard seating?
Odeon Employee: Yes they’re standard seats, but I can upgrade you to premiere?
Me: No, I’d have to take out a pay day loan, remortgage the house and sell the family silver for that. So I’ll just get the standard…for £13.80!!!
Odeon Scum: Plus the 3D glasses.
Hate-filled cinema goer: (through gritted teeth) Yesss!
Sarcastic cine-staff: Any food or drink?
Psychotic film fan: AAAAAAHHHH!

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This is how the conversation at the Odeon Camden might have gone if I hadn’t been quite so excited to see the new Godzilla movie, if I hadn’t just eagerly handed over my money with a big stupid grin on my face and skipped my way to the standard seat, I’m British and therefore allergic to complaining in person (I have to dwell on it, think it over a thousand times and then I’ll only put it in writing).

Anyway my anticipation for the reboot of this giant lizard franchise was at an all time high, I’d been sucked in by its brilliant marketing campaign, which teased sumptuous shots mixed with lots of people turning round looking at something big…elizabeth-olsenWhenever I see screen shots like the one above I always like to imagine that their looking at something else, like this…giphy

I was also excited because the studios had cleverly chosen a proper director who’d already made a properly good indie monster movie (the originally titled Monsters) it even had Walter White in it from Breaking Bad and of course there was a big fuck off dinosaur thing smashing shit up. What could go wrong? Well after I’d sold all my personal possessions for a ticket I sat down to find out, I hoped it would be a reinvention of a franchise that had been defeated more times than it had succeeded. I wanted it to crush my memories of the forgettable 90’s version (starring Matthew Broderick with its weird beast that eerily resembled Jimmy Hill/Bruce Forsyth/another big chinned celebrity) that it would smash those memories into the ground under its titanic toes only to be reborn as a powerful nuclear monster for the Fukushima era.godzilla-1998

We begin the story with Walter White already in Japan, I assume he’s there to expand his drug empire, he’s definitely undercover cos he’s wearing a dodgy wig on his head (see rug above) his new sidekick is a hot-headed lizard who spends his time mashed on nuclear energy staggering around the city screaming ‘Yeah I’m destroying buildings….biiiitch!’ We’re briefly introduced to Walter’s wife, Juliet Binoche, who before you can say ‘What was she in again?’ ends up Three Colours Dead, then not long after that our Heisenberg hero also bites the radioactive dust (which we should have known was coming from the ‘…and Bryan Cranston’ credit) leaving us abandoned and directionless in the hands of dull as dishwater Aaron Taylor Johnson as Cranston’s son. A character we’re supposed to connect with simply because he loves his family (that’s what you’re meant to do, Hollywood!) so having killed off all the interesting characters we’re left to follow the pretty boy with the big eyes, who also happens to be a bomb defuser in the army, joining him as he tracks the monsters, follows army orders, does what he’s told, and is generally boring throughout.altj2

There are some good ideas in the movie’s set up, such as the idea to bring the threat of the monsters over from Japan to the US leaving a trail of devastation in their wake like some sort of crazy monster themed pub crawl, but like a pub crawl the film goes on that little bit too long, ‘til you feel a bit like you should have gone home a while ago, stifling yawns and feeling a bit queasy (probably because of those shots of 3D you did earlier).

Godzilla feels like a film that’s already been cut down substantially from a longer running time (which begs the question why did they leave us with the yawny bits) cuts which actually make the plot seem more incomprehensible than it should be (so where are they now? Why are they doing that?? There are three monsters???). It has a great supporting cast of actors like Ken Wantanabe and Sally Hawkins but it’s depressing to see them given such underwritten roles, spending most of their time shouting ‘Oh my god!’ ‘It’s impossible’ staring at screens and spouting soporific scientific sentences until you want to switch off. It seems strange that after showing such skill in slowly drawing out character development in Monsters that Edwards seems to be such a slave to the script here, maybe the big budget has overwhelmed the project and diminished the reason why he was a good choice for the film in the first place.SH Godzilla

In Monsters, the director proved he was a master of holding back (ooh get in line girls!) only showing us the creatures in full towards the end, a tactic he employs again here, but seems to have backfired as it’s resulted in many critics complaining that they want more Godzilla in their Godzilla movie. Which is fair enough, considering it’s not really a big surprise when he does turn up, he’s in the title after all and we know what he basically looks like, a hungover hedgehog. In fact I found myself getting quite bored waiting around for the big reveal, as the whole film geared up for the final act for a big smashy smashy showdown between Godzilla and the other monsters, I found myself unable to care anymore, somehow they’d done the impossible – they’d made a movie about giant lizards smashing shit up, that was boring.GARETHCAST

Of course some of the cinematography that accompanies it all is stunning, the SFX (which is Gareth Edward’s strong point) are superb, especially in the fight scenes and the amazing skydiving scene but it’s all the stuff we’ve already seen in the trailer and I want my £13.80’s worth (plus 3D glasses). Most of the issues with the film really come down to the script, with its boring characters, self-explanatory dialogue, scientific mumbo jumbo and set pieces with no real sense of threat. So if anyone’s to blame it looks like angry fingers should be wagged at writers Dave Callaham (whose previous credits include Doom and The Expendables) and Max Borenstein (with this his first feature credit) who have created a plot which really isn’t a huge departure from the much maligned 90’s version. One thing is for sure they spent more time designing the monster than on the characters or the plot. In its most ridiculous moments there’s even a scene that reveals a monster’s balls, no not the film Monster’s Ball with Halle Berry, an actual monster’s scrote bag.

Godzilla-art-horizontal I left the cinema feeling a bit cold (not because I was naked and penniless) filled with a sense of disappointment, I’d expected more nuance, more character, more subtlety, just more. But it was about as subtle as a lizards ball sack, gone were the indie touches I expected and instead it was replaced with a full on CG Hollywood blockbuster that reminded me of Jurassic Park (at its best) and Congo (at its worst). Compared to other recent monster movies it’s much less fun than say Pacific Rim, and therefore I’d advise you to just throw it in a specific bin! Labelled: Nuclear Waste!

Verdict: A load of balls…..

6 dangling monster sacks out of 25

balls

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