Tuesday, August 5, 2014

//FLM RVW: Godzilla- We're Prepped For The Nuclear Holocaust Now


What can a Summer Pop-Corn flick like this year's Godzilla teach the young and, relatively, perceptive inward mind? Well, quickly put into an answer:  I think the western world is pretty ripe for the new round of scientific surge- and all the destruction that comes with it. Please do keep in mind that both I and the makers of the film go on to include Japan in this ideal futuristic world that Godzilla  is attempting to roar into existence. The titular monster- Godzilla, or rather 'Gojira', has reared its bear/cat-like head to absolve everyone of their sins and exact hard nuclear ass-beating on.... other nuclear-reliant creatures of a similar kind. But not really. It's going to be hard to not sound Anti-'Murica in this post but trust me when I say that I'm trying really hard to balance out exactly what I'm seeing in this movie. Also keep in mind I've only had the pleasure of watching a handful of the original Toho films.



So let's quickly lay out the aesthetics that your average pop-corn eating, spliff-smoking movie goer has probably picked up after a screening of this film. Gojira, unlike the 1998 Godzilla, is an ancient-ass dinosaur-bear-dragon-cat-dog that's just chilling in the deep pacific when another couple of ancient giant bats decide it's time to defossilise and fuck. Their romantic rendezvous point happens to be somewhere in the San-Francisco area and along the way they stomp out Kick-Ass's dad- Heisenberg and annihilate parts of Japan that don't actually exist. Of course, Gojira is having none-of-that. He drifts out and beats their asses from Hawaii to California, takes a nap and heads back out to his crib. There's more that can be spotted as stand-out- mainly that this movie adds a level of gangster to Gojira's makeup that gives him way more Swagger than any of the Japanese incarnations. Do not be fooled- this definitely IS the Japanese Gojira but fused with Steve Rogers' DNA to deliver vengeance of Kanye West proportions to anyone that dares fuck with the U.S.A. I don't think this is anywhere near what was originally meant for this movie but what we were left with after many rewrites by some of Hollywood's corniest screenwriters- including the U.S. military.


Think about that last sentence for a minute and then attempt to answer the following: did no one find it odd that, unlike in the original, Gojira's creation was rewritten from being a byproduct of U.S. military nuclear testing to, simply, a prehistoric force of nature akin to, I don't know, Nuclear Energy? It's a glaring issue that takes up quite some space for anyone that understands the motivations and ideology behind the original 1954 filmGojira has historically represented Japan's fear of nuclear power and other societal issues plaguing the time. Now no longer a beast-child of the western world's mission for never-ending power, Gojira has come of age and coolly absolved the U.S. of its sins. It was about time the monster from across the pacific came over to put aside history and embrace hedonism in its best forms. Destruction, violence, competitiveness and sexual hypocrisy is gold here. Is it a coincidence that Godzilla just so happens to show up just in the nick of time to cockblock the male MUTO while breathing a kiss of death of sorts into his woman? This is almost Trap-music level of alpha male dominion bordering on rape. It's still awesome though.

However, there are two more deeper layers of subtext that might have been missed. The first being that this movie, whether intended or not, reconciled the whole Pacific into a welcoming party for a new wave of nuclear development. We're midway a huge international debate on whether we should pursue nuclear power now that we've wasted pretty much most of our oil. Perhaps this is what Toho intended when it contractually obligated Legendary pictures and Warner Bros. to include the Nuclear theme in their movie. Now we have a broader understanding of how the general movie-going public stands on nuclear power- something worthy of many 'Cool!'s and 'Woah's. Meanwhile it was reported that many of the audience of the original 1954 film left in fear and some a state of P.T.S.D.

The second and last level delves deep into the land of biochemistry and acoustics. Like never-before are we exposed to a new state of being as large weapons of destruction traverse across the pacific. Godzilla's sound designers were tasked with turning Gojira's iconic roar into a solidified acoustic weapon- reporting that upon testing- it could be heard almost 4 kilometers away. Other nonsense about giving Gojira and the MUTOs their own language might seem absurd but all of it contributes to how it connects with you, the average viewer. Each heartbeat pumped and growl  braces and trains you, both, physically and mentally. Sound is an indispensable tool. The idea must have, surely, been to synchronise all our heartbeats with the monsters' in order to platform us onto a new level of heart arrhythmia. Gareth Edwards, the director, among many of the screenwriters was able to do his homework and include the idea that the MUTOs heartbeats were sending out electromagnetic pulses throughout their vicinity. Too bad this idea was mainly used to sex Ford Brody with Godzilla in a scene where both their heart-pressures drop and both go into rest-mode- spiritually gluing Gojira's might to the courageousness of the U.S. infantry. Okay.



Beyond all this exists a concrete and destructively tasteful Kaiju movie that is topping my list.Unlike with Edward's former film Monsters, the levels of sappiness is kept to a minimum and actual Kaiju presence is fleshed out- but not by too much. It is smart the level of mysteriousness he still wanted to attach to a film about a giant lizard tail-smacking giant birds. For the most part, I don't mind. Also, it is not that eliminating a male-female blooming relationship B-plot that makes this movie any less teary- I haven't had this much stir up inside of me since last year's Robocop (How is he going to have sex with his wife? ;_ ; ). The mentioned sentimentality can be attributed mainly to Bryan Cranston's accelerated performance as a man who's lost his wife and was shielded from what caused it. Juliet Binoche... not much done here since she only had enough screen time to give Bryan something to cry about. Aaron... well... I guess he's good at stunts? Okay, the actors and story in this movie might not be on a level matching Bladerunner's but you don't really need that when your movie is based on an old Japanese B-movie. Heavy Artillery is needed when dealing with Godzilla. You need heavy artillery in order to shock and awe your audience. Was I pounded on by this movie's tenacity? Fuck yeah I was.

Extra Resources:
http://www.wired.com/2014/05/designing-godzillas-scream/
http://nofilmschool.com/2014/05/revamping-godzillas-iconic-roar-behind-the-scenes-sound-design/
http://godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/M.U.T.O.
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141472/william-m-tsutsui/for-godzilla-and-country
http://godzilla.wikia.com/wiki/File:Concept_Art_-_Godzilla_2014_-_Winged_MUTO_1.jpg