NOTE: SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENTARY, but I will shove them into the back of the file, and warn you to stop reading before I start spoiling. Or, spoiling the movie, I’m not spoiled… Okay, sometimes I buy myself ice cream when I haven’t done my chores, but… I digress.
TLDR: GREAT MONSTER MOVIE: Go See it in IMAX, or IMAX 3D. WORTH IT!
Now, on to the show.
I have always wanted to make myself a Godzilla costume. I love Halloween and Cosplay. (Even though I never got to go to a Sci-Fi Con in costume. I blame my ex.) I tend to go all out, though, when I do a suit. So my Frankenstein’s Monster costume consistently won awards. My evil clown would freak zombies out and make them shamble to the other side of the street to avoid me during the annual zombie crawl, and my sons’ costumes would rock too.
I research my costumes. My Frankenstein (note: the monster, not the doc, but you get it) had to have bolts in the neck, not in the forehead or something else lame. My son’s Solomon Grundy had the poem carved on his tombstone…details…
So when, in a fit of insanity, I made it a bucket list goal to build a Godzilla suit, I wanted it to be AUTHENTIC. Something immediately recognizable as the big G. And using the same slow research I did when I built my MAME arcade cabinet (which is awesome and plays thousands of games), I ended up watching a LOT of Godzilla movies. I may have missed one, but I think I have seen them all. (Shudder).
What? A G-Fan shudders!?
Okay, let’s be honest here. This is not Shakespeare. This is rarely A-list material. Some of it is verifiably awful. (it’s even been MST3k’d, if that can be used as a verb). And through the Showa, Heisei, Millennium series, the amount of screen time, the costume, and certain details have CHANGED. And don’t get me started on the cartoon and American “Zilla”. Heights change. The Atomic Breath changed. The face, the spines on its back, even its attitude changed.
BUT! Like the old SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart said referring to something completely unrelated, “I know it when I see it…” That means, that even though they kept rebuilding the suit for each new movie, resulting in a different variation on the theme, you knew it was Godzilla when you saw it. (And you sir, are no Godzilla, so take that beast and Ferris Bueller and leave our sight).
The Legendary 2014 Godzilla is the real deal. Yes, it is shaped differently than the last rubber suit iteration, and it is worlds better than the original. It has a reptilian head, three rows of spines, four claws on its front arms, and a wicked long tail. It is sufficiently massive, and has the trademarked blue atomic breath weapon. The movie pays proper homage to its origins, and keeps the “force of nature” vibe that made the big G a nigh-indestructible god-like creature of the depths.
NOTE: Next part of this commentary contains stuff that was either shown in the trailer or the promotional materials. If you haven’t seen the movie, or the trailers, or shopped at TOYS-R-Expensive, stop reading now and go see the movie unspoiled.
I mean it, stop reading now.
I will probably slip in some real juicy spoilers from here on out so STOP READING.
There is a monster at the end of this book. Bonus Points if you get the reference.
THE SHARK EATS EVERYONE!
Ha! Fooled you. That’s the spoiler of another movie.
Okay, the movie follows Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who, after KickAss 1&2, used his money to attend the Clint Eastwood School of acting, but with less squinting. A mysterious nuclear reactor accident in Japan takes the life of his mother, Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche), and a lot of the rationality of his dad. In a truly poignant scene, Joe Brody (Brian Cranston) is forced to slam the security hatch shut before Sandra can get to safety. Joe then watches through the porthole as the radiation mutates her into SHE-HULK!
No, wait, that’s not right…
Oh yeah, she died.
But the expressions on her face, and the few lines she had, really spoke volumes. Great acting.
Flash forward to now, and Ford is returning to be with his family after EOD deployment. Being a bomb guy requires nerves of steel and the ability to stay calm in a crisis, so perhaps we can forgive Aaron for being a bit wooden. No sooner is he home, than he has to fly to Japan to bail Joe out of jail. Joe has been pursuing his conspiracy theories (complete with walls of news clippings, photos, colored yarn, etc) about the reactor disaster, and convinces his son to (TRON REFERENCE) accompany him back in the dead zone so he can find his data! (small sub-note here… the guy has a PHD and he couldn’t put it all neatly on a laptop he regularly backs up? No… tack it all over his wall… that makes sense. And an active duty soldier on leave is NOT going to go out knowing breaking laws in a foreign country…so much for his security clearance).
They make it back to their old home in Japan, but no radiation, no mutates, happy birthday banner still hanging. (Hi Mothra easter egg) They find the Iomega Zip Disks (geek points for me being able to identify the media, and points to the movie for NOT making the computers do stuff that was not reasonable). And immediately get captured. (Sorry, I guess Ford was distracted; but I would half expect him to be able to take them down, non-lethally even, but that wouldn’t move the plot along so….)
Joe’s research provides a key confirming point, and then the plot went on without him and he dies.
Ford, having been surrounded by death in active duty, doesn’t react much when his dad bites it. I guess he was more concerned about the giant monster that now was looking for its mate, when his own mate is thousands of miles away. Good news! Both females are going to be in the same relative area pretty soon, so catching a ride from Japan to San Francisco by way of Hawaii should be pretty easy.
Finally, after some more teases, we get the first reveal of Godzilla. And hoooo boy! If you saw the movie on premiere night like I did (twice!) You had some serious G-fans cheering!
LET THEM FIGHT! ….nope.
Now we have Godzilla apparently chasing after the male flying MUTO, swimming in the Pacific, surrounded by naval vessels with no understanding of personal space. Okay, it’s a cool shot, but really, those carriers would have kept a more respectful distance of a giant monster. Meanwhile mama MUTO is hiking across country from her weekend in Vegas, to settle down in Chinatown and make lots of little MUTO babies. Along the way, Ford pops in, catching a ride on the train of death, to help deliver a nuclear warhead (hereafter listed as the plot device) that has been retrofitted with an older clockwork detonator that is immune to the EMP pulses the MUTO generate. It was supposed to be bait to lure the MUTO couple out to sea where the raw power of a modern nuke warhead would destroy them. Unfortunately the nuke gets hijacked by papa MUTO and taken directly into the city that Elle Brody and their son Sam both live in, so Ford must save the day. So while the MUTO family prepares to confront Godzilla, the Brody family (note to self, if I ever meet someone with that last name, I am running away. Giant Sharks, Giant Monsters, they are just trouble magnets) is trying to escape them.
Ford, in a shining moment of clarity, remembers that third reel scene from Aliens and sets off a gasoline explosion to wipe out the baby MUTO eggs. Then tries to catch up to the rest of the team that is shuffling a damaged nuke onto a ferry boat (Whale Tours, now with deluxe EMP proof GPS navigation!) (Yes I get the double reference… Whale being part of the Gojira name, and the Brody vessel the Orca (whale)(yes another Jaws egg …they need a bigger boat). Then Ford collapses, (why) and lays helpless in the boat. (Okay, either he is trying to pilot it, or if he knows its on autopilot (WTF) then why isn’t he grabbing a life jacket and getting away from the TICKING NUKE! (This isn’t Dark Knight Rises, how is a slow tour boat going to reach minimum safe distance for a nuke! What is the minimum safe distance for a nuke with a yield that dwarfs the original 1954 nukes?)
Wait a minute…
Why am I worried about any of that?
This is a GODZILLA movie. None of the science has to make sense.
So, let’s get to the good stuff. The fight between Godzilla and the MUTO monsters!
This, my friends, is the payoff, the part that makes all the illogic worthwhile. Big wrestling, crushing buildings, then, THE BLUE GLOW. That glow that makes the G-fans in the theater start hooting like excited apes near the monolith, as the glow starts at Godzilla’s tail and runs up his spine, and we all know that the MUTO gonna get it! The fights did not disappoint the fans. The male MUTO gets slammed to death by a full on tail swipe into a building. THAT, my friends, was how Showa Godzilla got it done! That tail was used as a real weapon. And in a moment of irony, that same tail swipe triggered a building to land on Godzilla, knocking him down for a bit. But true to the Godzilla series, it would take far more than that to take down the Big G. The final climatic fight scene with Godzilla literally blasting his atomic breath down the throat of the female MUTO was a crowd pleaser.
The only non-monster character needed in the sequel is Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe). Rumors suggest that along with Godzilla, Mothra may be the next classic monster brought back for Monster Island. Then again, maybe a MUTO survived.
Seeing the movie made me glad I decided to model my GODZILLA COSTUME PROJECT (see my facebook page of that name) after the Legendary Godzilla. I am building a suit, with internal cooling, sound effects, led lights for the spines and nitrous dump valve port for the atomic breath. I am going to control the effects from inside the suit, but unlike any other G-suit on record, I am using an Oculus Rift headset inside to see and control all the effects. No peeking through mesh or tiny eyeholes in the chest. Total ridiculous overkill.
But hey, its Godzilla, y’all.
Basementarcade at gmail