May 21, 2014

What Could Make Godzilla Better?

Godzilla was a spectacle to behold, but should have been the main star. Instead, we were given a story that poorly balanced human aspects and monster warfare. Director, Gareth Edwards's camera work doesn't work and the audience is left wanting more. What could make Godzilla better?


1.  More Action and Destruction.

For a two hour film featuring giant monsters wrecking havoc across the Pacific Ocean, there was little action and destruction happening onscreen. Gareth Edwards enjoyed teasing us with the beginning of Kaiju battles, and the aftermath of the destruction. We get very quick glimpses of what's occurring, but never a full picture. The first example would be the ever so marvelous reveal of Godzilla himself as he steps onto the tarmac at the Honolulu International Airport to fight a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). The scene is perfectly set up as Edwards pans up, from Godzilla's feet to his head, showing us exactly how tall, fearsome and bulky the King of Monsters is. Godzilla roars toward the MUTO, then the film cuts to Brody's kid sleeping on a couch in San Francisco. Granted the news is on and the camera shows bits and pieces of a grainy battle between Godzilla and the MUTO, but it's not even live footage of the battle. The footage intercuts between the first punch thrown and the MUTO fleeing from the battle. Audiences enjoyed this tease, but the problem is that it happens three more times throughout the film.

The second incident occurs as another MUTO awakens in Nevada and starts destroying Las Vegas. Unfortunately, we watch about ten good seconds of wreckage and twenty seconds of grainy video feed. Even in the final act when Godzilla and the two MUTOs have reached San Francisco, the audience doesn't receive a clear view of destruction. Each scene ends too quickly or is shown at a weird camera angle that feels limited to the nature of the type of film we are watching. 

So, what I plead for in a sequel is for there to be more destruction and more monster action. Thank you for giving us one of the best scenes of 2014, when Godzilla breathes blue flames down a monster's neck. However, one great scene can't make up for the number of times we were promised action and chaos, only to be let down. 

2.  Give Us A Story That Makes Sense.

Why does it feel that every big monster movie has to have a dumbed down story? Can we, as an audience, not endure a smart script and awesome visual effects? At first, the story seems fresh and emotional with a young Ford Brody losing his mother during a nuclear meltdown. Ford's father, Joe, is distraught and driven crazy with the idea that the nuclear meltdown was a cover-up. Noticing Joe's anguish, Ford agrees to help his father enter the quarantine zone to gather information on the cover-up. The whole mission is compromised when they're arrested and bare witness to one of the MUTOs escaping its containment. During the catastrophe, Ford watches his father die. After this moment, the film quickly dissolves into a mindless charade of having Ford being right where the action is. There's no real reason he should be in the places where Godzilla happens to show up, but for stories sake, he is.

Then, there's the military's half-ass plan wherein the military decides to destroy the monsters with nuclear warheads. A plan that is decidedly the most far-fetched concept in a film where creatures feed off radiation. The film acknowledges the idea that the warheads won't destroy the Kaiju, but it only gets worse from there on out. Two nuclear warheads are brought in to lure the MUTOs from San Francisco. The warheads are carried by train. There is no plausible explanation for why the American military would send two nuclear warheads by train when these MUTOs can sense radiation and live off radiation. Eventually, the MUTOs acquire both nuclear warheads, with one being devoured and the other one being buried in the middle of San Francisco. This again gives reason as to why Ford, an explosive ordinance disposal technician, should be part of the action. Still very unnecessary seeing that the team going to dispose of the bomb already has a EOD technician and the bomb can't be disarmed once the team gets to it.

With a character as broad and rich as Godzilla, I expected a better story. There are so many ways you can create a monster film with complex characters, visually stunning monster battles, and giant scale scenes. Max Borenstein decided to take the simple route with giving us thin story and shallow characters.

3.   Make Godzilla A Character.

Some may argue that Godzilla was a character in the film. He had the expressions, but he lacked screen time and the point of view to help his character grow. Edward's directing style and Borenstein's screenplay didn't help with the characterization of Godzilla either, as both went with the human perspective to show the destruction and terror the monsters brought upon Earth. It would have also helped if Godzilla had more motivation. I can't go along with the fact that Godzilla awakened just so he can restore balance to Earth and kill the MUTOs. Vengeance on the other hand would make more sense. The beginning of the film shows the audience a skeleton of what looks to be a creature similar to Godzilla. Near this skeleton sits two cocoons of MUTOs. It is suggested that these MUTOs were parasites to the Godzilla species. The filmmakers would've had an easier time with the vengeance concept than a shallow restoring balance to Earth story.

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