film

Shin Godzilla/Resurgence or “The King, has returned”

The King of all monsters returned to the silver screen this summer in Japan by way of Toho studios and it made a huge impact at the box office. Just this week, at the time of writing, the monster’s rampage crashes into American cinemas for a one week release. Growing up during the Heisei period of Toho’s productions I have a fondness and nostalgia for the giant lizard anti-hero and his destructive ways. Pitched as a force of nature that man must struggle against, with the occasional bout with giant other otherwordly forces, Godzilla was a serious threat that allowed for dramatic conversations about humanity’s own issues. “Shin Godzilla” does this particularly well. While there is camp and visceral destruction to be had, the film also uses Godzilla as an opportunity for social commentary on Japan’s status in international politics and how to decide whether or not to use force when the country effectively has no military.

In the initial stages of Godzilla’s wake of destruction the monster hasn’t quite evolved enough to become the towering colossus we all know him to be. No, at first he simply slithers and plods along a riverbed on his stomach looking quite silly and odd. Because of his size even at this stage he still does an awful lot of damage but eventually falls back into the sea to evolve further. Eventually he returns in style with an appropriately creepy look about him this time around. Then does exactly what you would expect him to do, follow the scent of radiation and plod towards it, menacingly. Throughout these sequences the story is driven by a large and ever changing cast of characters in the government and military personnel.

The film casts a wide net on the scope of the film by showcasing how Godzilla’s very presence effects the lives of the people in Tokyo and surrounding areas. This does a lot to present the audience with an effective grasp on just how many moving parts would have to come into play under such an event. There are many conversations between leading personnel about the streams of red tape and hurdles they have to jump through just to get anything done. A lot of the plot rests on these debates. The film carefully considers the weight of taking action, of following procedures, and whether or not to choose independently. Also I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Godzilla movie where “The Americans” were such a force in the background, they increasingly effect the story and try to control Japan’s situation for them as the runtime goes on.

This film does an impeccable job pulling everything together, the terror of the monster himself, the belowing and immense score-yes it’s got the classic tune that was missing from Legendary’s production, and even the cinematography and editing help to keep the pace taut when Godzilla isn’t onscreen, although his prescence can be felt throughout. Inbetween the rampages the film wisely takes a sort of CSI vibe as specialists attempt to learn as much as possible about the beast to form possible retaliations. Sweeping camera movements and quick-snap editing keep the atmosphere tense throughout while injecting moments of humanity and humor when appropriately needed.

All in all this entry in the longest continuously running movie franchise has everything that makes Godzilla great. Symbolism of Japan’s current psyche on popular and important issues. Stellar amounts of Godzilla destruction. Heck, they even throw in a nod that basically boils down to “The Americans call it Godzilla, so we’ll just go with that… but really it’s Gojira… *sigh* Americans” which personally made me crack a smile. Honestly this is a better film than our last attempt at adapting the King of monsters, so hopefully we’ll learn something from the originators of the property. Long Live the King.

 

 

Final Score: 5/5

film

Long Time Coming

Hey there. It’s been awhile. No no, it’s not you, it’s me. Lately I’ve been wrapped up in screaming into pillows and tweets to express my feelings on the political process. I know what you’re thinking, “this isn’t about movies, what are you doing? I didn’t come here to hear about Bernie, Hillary, or Trump!” and you won’t, fear not intrepid blog readers with  hearts of celloid, for that topic is too sweeping and utterly failing to discuss here. This is a place beyond the edge of reality where we analyze adventure and discuss imagination. Lately life has kept me out of the movie theater, as it does from time to time, and I figure its about time to dive back in. This summer doesn’t have as many big offerings as years past, but this weekend alone has several options that have caught my attention.

The Nice Guys

I have no earthly idea how this film has still passed by me. Roundly considered to be a great time at the theater due to the performaces of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, “The Nice Guys” is a private eye buddy cop movie set in the dirty and dark Los Angeles of the 1970’s.  With Gosling playing the alcoholic private eye with a heart of gold and Crowe selling the muscle, what’s not to love? The film indulges in its strengths with a slick script and brutal clarity with a dash of slapstick tossed in, this one looks to be a gem.

Warcraft

Now officially the highest grossing video-game film adaption yet this one is a curiosity pick for me. I’m not familiar with the games, at least I’ve never played them, although I know plenty that did back in the days of dorm rooms and ramen noodles. I am, however, a fan of fantasy and this movie looks to supplement my lack of swords and monsters inbetween episodes of Game of Thrones. It’s also very pretty, and I can turn my mind off for like-minded films within this genre, so I’ll probably check it out.

The Shallows

Even though only one out of every four “Jaws” films is great, I still love the idea of a harrowing Shark Attack flick. Admittedly the first trailer for this film had me doubtful of the concept, Blake Lively on a rock with a shark circling nearby. The second trailer however showed us that Blake Lively had character reasons to be on this island, and that she’s a resourceful character striving against nature. That’s the primal reason the first Jaws is so great, characters that are human and believable. Hopefully that aspect comes across in her battle with the beast.

Independence Day 2: Resurgence

Everybody and their mother loved the first “Independence Day” and while the film doesn’t necessarily age well, I rewatched it last summer, I can respect its love for small scale model destruction. This time the aliens return, and we have their fallen comrades technology to fight back.. again. This one is a bit of a shrug, but admittedly I have a weakness for big summer blockbusters. There’s nothing better than sitting in a cold theater on a hot summer day watching landmarks explode with splendor, it’s our very own fireworks show, so hell, lets just kick back and enjoy it. Plus, Jeff Goldblum!

Swiss Army Man

After two “mindless fun” entries lets bookend this with another film looking to do something great. “Swiss Army Man” feels surreal in its very nature. Even the combination of Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe feels odd, yet with an uncanny perfection about it. Truly unique in story and scope I hope the film does well against the other entries arriving or staying this weekend, we need more original ideas like this. How else will we get films that feature a man using another dead man to escape an island in the ocean, while probably losing his mind? Seriously, check out the trailer if you haven’t heard of this one.