Go go, Godzilla!

Guess what I saw the other day.  Here's a hint:

A good time was had by all. 

I had heard mixed things about director Gareth Edwards's Monsters, but regardless of the quality of that movie, it's clear he understands the character, and the genre, unlike certain directors who shall remain unmentioned.  Ahem.

Regardless, this is a movie that not only understands the entire concept, but deeply loves it.  You can see the love of genre in general, and the big guy in particular.  Like Pacific Rim, this movie knows what it is and revels in it, not afraid to wallow in the glory of it all.

A few things have been tweaked here and there to, I guess, make the movie more contemporary, such as making the Kaiju creatures from an earlier age, as opposed to atomic mutations.  Indeed, the opening credits sequence (which is actually rather clever) shows that the Bikini Atoll tests didn't create Godzilla; they were an attempt to kill Godzilla.

Sadly, after those tantalizing glimpses, Master G all but vanishes from the picture until much, much, much later.  It's a deep loss.

And that's my main complaint with the picture.  While it's fun playing, "Oh Hey, That Guy!" during the beginning of the film, it can be horribly plodding.  Yes, yes, it sets up motivations, and it puts things in motion, and it establishes Important In-Movie Information for later, but it feels long.  I can't help but think the movie could have benefited from having a good 10 or 15 minutes cut, especially from the first hour.  The movie clocks in at just over two hefty hours, so the King of the Monsters isn't the only one looking a little bloated.

And yes, this Godzilla seems a little on the pudgy side.  But it's the weirdest thing.  There are scenes where I could swear they decided to have the CG try to emulate a dude in a rubber suit.  The skin seems to be wobbling above nothing, like it would in a rubber suit, as opposed to if the skin was wrapped around blubber or whatever Kaiju have.  I suppose an in-movie explanation would be that, since Godzilla lives on the bottom of the ocean, leaving that extreme pressure has caused him to expand, but that seems like I'm over thinking things.

Mild spoilers to follow, but this information is revealed towards the beginning, so it's not much of a spoiler.

Had this movie taken a more traditional naming scheme, it wouldn't have been called Godzilla; it would have been called Godzilla vs. MUTO.

Say what you will about the creature design for Godzilla, the design for MUTO is fantastic.  It's a weird bug/bat/monster thing.  It looks like it was somewhat inspired by Gyaos, truth be told.  Regardless, it's still an original beastie and is wonderfully crafted.  The thought given to its design and life cycle was actually pretty neat.  I like that they took the time to make these creatures seem like real things instead of just giant engines of destruction.  I mean, they are giant engines of destruction, but they have... biology.

And we see a lot of MUTO.  After the opening credits teases of Godzilla, MUTO is the only Kaiju we see for about half the picture, and there's a lot of running around trying to figure out what's going on and so forth and so on.  While it's nice to see Bryan Cranston (looking more Hal Wilkerson than Walter White) and Ken Watanabe, we don't care about the humans.  In fact, there was a point in the movie where Godzilla was starting to fight MUTO and they cut away to the human characters running around and I almost cried out, "Oh, come on!" in the theater.

Still, even with all those missteps, it's a ridiculously fun movie.  Even though it teases us with Godzilla for far to long, it's not afraid of the money shot: when we get that first shot of Godzilla roaring right at the camera, you just want to cheer.  It's utterly amazing.  Well worth the price of admission.

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