"Let them fight."
When an ancient species of radiation gnoshing MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) threaten to send humanity back to the stone age, another ancient Alpha-Predator arises from the depths of the ocean to destroy them.
The first time I saw it was at an advance Thursday night screening, during a layover in Miami. I was suffering from a hellish case of the squats at the time, which I picked up in the Amazon rain forests of Peru, while on vacation. (More about that trip next week.)
I know you really did not need to know that, but I do need to get across just how much of an unhappy mood my fatigue and less than comfortable feeling stomach had put me in. Now, place on top of this the horrendous foul ups with the digital projector at this particular screening. The first ten minutes played without sound. That is how long it took the theater management to figure out how to stop the projector, reboot it, and start the movie over, from the beginning, with the sound on. That cock-up got me to an almost HULK SMASH level of angry.
But wait... there was one more terrible, horrible, painful thing weighing upon my G-Fan Heart that night.
That thing was Roland Emmerich's shitty 1998 movie. It was hard to get too terribly excited, or maintain a sense of excitement, about the new movie with the still aching emotional scars left by seeing that Godzilla-In-Name-Only piece of crap on opening day, back in May of 1998.
But my fears and discomforts soon faded away as Edwards' movie played out before me. I held back my enthusiasm, kept it tightly in check, until the Big Moment. Only then did I heave a sigh of relief and allow myself to think, "By Mythical-God, they actually managed to get it right this time!"
By the end of the movie I was far from being the only person in the audience sold on it. There were a group of G-Fans behind me that were hooting, hollering, clapping, and cheering along with me. This version of Godzilla was so good, even my Kaiju doubting wife liked the movie.
I, however, was still holding back my enthusiasm. When she asked me how many stars I would give it, I told her, "I am going to be really generous, because I am such a big Godzilla fan, and give it three stars." Why? Because the human story, often a distracting weakness in a great many Godzilla films, was sketchy and thin, at best. I thought that both Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins were criminally wasted. Worst of all, I thought there were far too many white men in the movie. Come on Hollywood! I should not have to ask for a more colorful, and truthful, blending of skin tones and genders in the primary cast and supporting characters. Not in the 21st century.
However, when the movie ended, I was grinning ear to ear and hoping that this movie would do well enough to warrant at least one sequel. Well, it did. Godzilla did so well, in fact, that the producers did not even wait until Monday to announce they were making a sequel. Godzilla opened so well and so strong that the studio knew by Sunday morning that it had found an honest to goodness franchise in this rebirth of the 60 year old Japanese cultural icon.
Although word of mouth has been sharply divided on the film, I am definitely in the "It's a good, traditional feeling Godzilla movie" camp. I don't think it's a great Godzilla movie, far from it. But I do think it is every bit as good as mid-grade Godzilla movies like Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster and Terror of MechaGodzilla. While entertaining and exciting, I think Godzilla could have used a bit more Godzilla in it, too.
I think it's a good thing that the movie was so methodical in its pacing, that it held back its big reveal until the audience was on the edge of its seat, eager to see the Big G in all its glory. Some of the playful cutaways teased a bit too much, but the movie left me hungry for more Godzilla, and that will always be a good thing, for me.
I saw the film a second time, with my son, a weak later, and was very pleased at how well it held up. It did not bore me, or frustrate me, or have me hating what they did with Godzilla.
And it had me hoping just as hard for the sequel when it ended. The movie works, it works beautifully, and I think it will age well, and be accepted into Godzilla fandom once all the disgruntled tempers have had a chance to cool and the film revisited without hype or expectation.
Three stars out of four. (And bring on that sequel!)