Godzilla (2014)

godzillaposterTo say I have a soft spot for Soviet propaganda films isn’t exactly accurate; I’m certainly no authority on the subject, but there is one in particular I consider to be a favorite: Ballad of a Soldier. It’s a story about Alyosha, a very young soldier who shoots down two tanks. As a reward for his heroics, his superiors offer him anything he wants. All the young boy really wants to do is make it home to his mother, so he can help repair her roof. He only has a few days to get there and back, but he is determined. Along the way, he meets a lot of people, many of whom are missing their loved ones in the war. The valiant young soldier goes out of his way to help those in need, knowing that it will cut his trip home with his mother even shorter.

In the end, our young hero gets little more than a hug and a kiss with his mother, and then he’s off to battle again, never to return home. But what a guy! A real citizen. A true role model. If only everyone could be like young Alyosha.

What the fuck does this have to do with Godzilla, you ask? Well, Gareth Edwards’ 2014 remake of the Japanese classic giant-monster horror film is little more than military propaganda, with a whole crap-ton of sappy, tear-jerking family drama to round the whole damn thing out.

Ford Brody (yeah, that’s the hero’s name, Ford fucking Brody) has a history with nuclear energy. As a young boy growing up in Japan, his parents were bigwigs at the local nuclear power plant. It’s the usual perfect-family-how-could-anything-disturb-their-happiness bullshit, until one day something goes terribly wrong, and his mother (Juliette Binoche, totally wasted in this role, and why the fuck is she in this anyway?) dies, unable to escape the reactor’s core, or something. His father (Bryan Cranston) takes it pretty hard of course, and fifteen years later is arrested after he’s caught in the quarantine zone, attempting to retrieve old documents and discs from his family’s former home.

Enter steely-eyed Ford, freshly returned home to San Francisco from the war. Just after telling his droopy-eyed child that he’ll still be around tomorrow, he gets the call that his father needs help. So he flies off to Japan, where they go into the quarantine zone again only to find out that there’s no radiation there at all. So, what the hell’s going on? Well, there’s a giant fucking monster (let’s call it MUTO, or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object, because everything should be named like we’re in the fucking war room) feeding off all the radiation, silly, and it’s about to blow. And it does, and the shit hits the fan. And wherever the shit hits hardest, you’ll find Ford, willing to “do whatever it takes” to save the world from monsters, even if it means postponing his homecoming yet another day. What a guy.

The Americans swiftly take over because, America, fuck yeah!, and Ford has no problem suiting right back up for military duty. After all, he was warned that returning to civilian life is “the one thing they don’t prepare you for.” Good thing for Ford that the MUTOs are signaling one another across the Earth so they can breed. How the fuck will America save everyone? Oh, I know, I know! Let’s detonate a fucking nuclear bomb 20 miles off the coast of San Francisco, that’s a good idea, right?

If only the Americans listened to the advice of the wise, sage, Japanese scientist man (Ken Watanabe) who warns us all that our human arrogance will be the death of us. Seriously, instead of throwing more radiation out there, why don’t we just let the giantest giant monster of all, Godzilla, take care of it? Let them fight it out! There’s a natural balance to these things, after all.

No, the Americans didn’t listen, and (surprise!) their brilliant plan backfired! The MUTOs carried the nuclear warhead into the heart of downtown San Francisco; what better nourishment for a brood of fetal MUTOs than a nuclear warhead? D’oh! I guess it’s all in God(zilla)’s hands now. Oh, and Ford’s, because is there anything that guy can’t do?

Whatever. At least now we get to the good part: monsters fighting. This is what I came for in the first place. Just so you know, I’d estimate there’s a total of 10 minutes of sweet giant monster fights in this movie, which is, of course, over two hours long. There are some really great visuals of the monsters fighting throughout San Francisco. But there’s pretty much nothing else new, interesting, thought-provoking or entertaining in this movie. Why should I be surprised? And where the fuck did everyone’s sense of humor go? Why are all these movies loaded with sentimental music and sappy family bullshit?



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