Godzilla Screen 13 articles

Godzilla

2014

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  • [Edwards] gets several impressive effects by showing the monsters not head-on, but through inopportune, obstructed, or mediated POVs: through the perspective of omnipresent monitors, looking up from an awed human’s-eye-view... Unfortunately, Edwards is also obliged to periodically veer away from the destruction to remind us of the existence of the movie’s ostensible protagonists...

  • Edwards is getting lots of credit for building Godzilla slowly, and it’s true the climax gets deferred a couple of times – but that doesn’t really mean much, both because you know it’s just a matter of time after the first glimpse of MUTO and (more importantly) because there’s not much to do while you’re waiting.

  • The trick is cleverly done for the most part, and Edwards has clearly studied Spielberg for developing tension: there’s a nice sequence involving soldiers doing recon on a railway line, that builds up some real suspense and mystery. And the biggest scare is flat-out Hitchcockian: a seagull flaps against a bus window.

  • Their movie may be highly calculated, but at least it doesn't feel soulless; as in Spielberg's blockbusters, the sets (decorated by Elizabeth Wilcox) are filled with quirky bric-a-brac, bringing a lived-in dimension to the big-budget spectacle, and Edwards displays a welcome playfulness in some of his flamboyant camera movements.

  • Edwards takes care to include people in the frame, often for size reference, and stages excellent moments of awe-inspiring peril in which tiny figures are dwarfed by monsters and general devastation: a monster attack on a rickety bridge transporting a nuclear weapon by train, a Ligeti-scored high-altitude parachute jump into a smoke-shrouded city, the tsunami that signals Godzilla’s first approach to land.

  • Having emerged from a screening of Gareth Edwards’s new version of “Godzilla” nearly stumbling, feeling shaken up and smacked around, I can report with enthusiasm that the movie fulfills the fundamental requirement of an action spectacle: its action is spectacular... [Yet] in the absence of a human realm with recognizably tangled inwardness, the shudderingly vast quasi-religious kick that this “Godzilla” offers is the kick of an empty religiosity...

  • Edwards has chops: the shot he likes enough to use repeatedly is someone running out of the background as the camera moves forward to focus on the middle plane of a TV or mirror displaying/reflecting action, then have something something down in the foreground to establish separate events occuring in sequence within the three basic staging layers of the frame, eliminating the need for nervous constant cutting.

  • I think what is so great about this movie is not the way in which Edwards orchestrates the action, it's the way in which he stitches it all together. I'm not talking about exposition or explanation or hard edits or things like that... Small, quiet, near-transcendental interludes – think washing on a line – which act as smash-crescendos into the bricks-and-mortarcide.

  • In form, it's no wham-bam VFX sizzle reel replete with sputtering, ejaculatory climaxes. It's the magnificently sustained equivalent of Ravel's "Bolero," with nuclear warheads in place of timpani rolls... Godzilla's default disinterestedness and the film's elegiac depiction of a sudden urban warzone... add up to $160 million worth of roaring existentialism. Has a summer blockbuster ever dared a final shot more simultaneously pitiless and serene?

  • It is not about Godzilla or the beasts he fights... Like the 1954 original, it's a combination epic horror film and parable of nature in revolt, filled with odd ellipses and surprising but appropriate storytelling choices (such as an early monster duel that plays out mainly on CNN). The sheer filmmaking craft on display here shames almost any comparably budgeted superhero picture you can name.

  • In Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, point of view is everything... Here is a confidently paced monster movie that eschews the “four action setpieces strung together with exposition and iced with a tease” template of contemporary blockbuster cinema. Edwards devotes the film’s first hour to the deepening tragedy of a single family, and builds to an unspeakably spectacular climax that’s less dependent on what we’re seeing than on how we’re seeing it.

  • Not intended as a pejorative: Godzilla is one of the greatest apprentice works ever made. In this case, "sensei" (my favorite throwaway line reading, courtesy Sally Hawkins) is Steven Spielberg, the Bashō of the blockbuster, whose broad-strokes shorthand has become de rigueur for movies with costs ballooned into the tri-figures.

  • Edwards's tendency to incrementally reveal his creatures through thoughtful use of scale, which the director experimented with in his promising debut, Monsters, comes off fully polished here, but not without some wondrous moments of near-poetic visuals, such as a late shot where Godzilla's tail stirs and writhes in and out of a cloud of black smoke.

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