Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Waiting for God(zilla)

We're days away from the worldwide release of Godzilla. If you've read this blog for long then you know I cherish giant monsters. They're splendid metaphors for natural disasters and even more splendid excuses for giant fight scenes. I've been watching kaiju movies since elementary school and even today, at least once a year, will watch Cinemassacre's entire series retrospective on Godzilla. It's probably my favorite thing on Youtube for how unabashedly the narrator, who seemingly hates everything else, loves that series.

How do you hide this guy for an hour of film?
The hype cycle started early for this adaptation, and so we're getting different attempts for media attention now. Director Gareth Edwards explained to early journalist audiences that Godzilla wouldn't show up too much to build anticipation. He likened it to the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, who isn't on screen for that long.  

This worried me for a few reasons. Firstly, there are over twenty Godzilla movies. Even if you've missed all the shots of this Godzilla, we all pretty much know what he looks like. You can't surprise us the way Steven Spielberg did with Stan Winston's revolutionary puppets and CGI

And furthermore, as a teen I didn't run out of the cinema babbling about how cool it was that the movie hid the T-Rex for the first hour. The impression was that once the creature showed up, the movie had amazing payoffs for using it. You want your director to pitch how cool his ideas are for Godzilla when he throws off the cloak of shadow, not an emphasis on the cloak. As my friend Randall Nichols put it, Jurassic Park wasn't called "T-Rex." It was a feature of that movie, sure, but it wasn't what was promised on every poster, so they had more leeway. The second and third Jurassic Parks couldn't afford to be as coy.

Somehow, even with the questionable press and negative reviews showing up, I've calmed. Early reviews are trickling in, with critics going back and forth on there being too much of the humans (nooo), the humans being too uninteresting (a Godzilla fan has to swallow that), and the movie being too preoccupied with its titans (that's the God-damned point).
I've had the healthy realization that I don't need this movie to be great. Sure, I want it to be – I'm going to pay to see it. But I've watched the trailers so often that the collected runtime is greater than that of the average movie, and I've enjoyed them outside of a pure hype cycle. I've actually gotten a movie's worth of enjoyment already, which is a strange thing to realize, and if I were more Marxist, this consumerist positive-drip would scare me. Now in my thirties, I'm just grateful for entertainment where I can find it. This takes some of the edge off of fears of another American Godzilla screw-up.

Maybe they'll still enrage me by having the non-Watanabe, non-Cranston humans talk too much.

That lithe classic Godzilla.
By the way: for a laugh, read about Japanese fans fat-shaming our new thicker Godzilla.

By the way 2*: negative reviews and bad reviews are not the same thing.

Time Magazine has an example of a negative review here, taking a pick-axe to the film with some thought. 

Forbes has a bad review I won't bother linking; it has little to say and spends several paragraphs repeating itself. It even has some choice errors, like when some buggy algorithm links a stock quote to an actor's name: 

Which is what you get when you ask stock merchants for reviews of giant monster movies. The conflation of "negative" and "bad" reviews has occurred more as authors become more public about their consumption of reviews. It can be excruciating to read an angry review of your work, and I've been lucky that the few anthologies I've been in have had enthusiastic responses. That'll be fixed, though, when I start publishing these novels I'm working on. If I'm lucky enough to catch on, somebody will hate everything I like. That's the life of an author who makes it.

I'm already a little adjusted to having someone hate everything I like. I mean, I'm a Gigan fan.

 *or, By The Way Raids Again


  1. It's eighty-eight percent at Rotten Tomatoes. I think it will rock for most of us.
    Godzilla fans want a decent movie, but we don't need Shakespeare.
    I really like how it's more serious, like the first film, and not goofy, like the last one.
    I have my IMAX tickets - bring on Godzilla!

    1. I have written Mechagodzilla haiku, so I'm open to literary giant monsters. But I'm on board with you. It's not what I'm demanding from the box office this weekend.

  2. Interesting point about the reviews. I thought the trailer looked amazing, and I am most decidedly not a Godzilla fan. The Watanabe + Cranston part sold it for me.

    It's amazing how much Roger Ebert is still missed. He was one of the few who reviewed a film for what it was, instead of complaining it wasn't Last Year at Marienbad or whatever film the reviewer is hung up on.

    1. Watanabe and Cranston are excellent actors. Their inclusion was the first hint that this movie could be special. I'm so looking forward to them.

  3. I'm trying not to find out too much about it before I see the movie. I'm crossing my fingers that it will satisfy a fan of the original Godzilla movies. Oh the summers I spent watching those...

    1. I don't even want to calculate how many dollars I've spent on viewing those. I still have VHS tapes of several in my closet!

  4. I'm actually looking forward to this movie. My expectations aren't high. I grew up watching the old black and white shows so I'm going to watch more for nostalgia than anything. Carlos (who hates all things sci-fi, paranormal, mythological, etc) is even looking forward to seeing it. Monster can't be bothered. Maybe she's jealous.

    1. Monster doesn't like monster movies? How is this possible?

    2. Well, her nickname for me is Dragon. Maybe that has something to do with it. She loves demon movies though!

  5. I rarely go to the theater anymore, but for Godzilla I'll be there. I'm also excited to see Watanabe and Cranston. That Time reviewer seemed more focused on attention-getting attacks than reviewing.

  6. I haven't been paying attention to much of the hype around Godzilla and I'm fine with that. I'll go to the movie in hopes of having a good time and not worrying about what others have said.


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