Saturday, September 27, 2014

God complex: GODZILLA(2014)

I can remember when I first saw the news that Legendary Pictures was going to produce a "Godzilla" film: my first thought was concern that their movie would end up being like the 1998 Centropolis film Godzilla, a movie directed by Roland Emmerich that makes for a solid giant monster flick but also features a rendering of Godzilla that makes the monster look like an oversized iguana. I was fairly enthusiastic after watching the intial trailer for the Legendary Pictures Godzilla film and I finally watched it last on Blu Ray. I enjoyed this movie a lot, feeling relief and satisfaction that we Godzilla fans FINALLY have a terrific AND American made Godzilla film!

There has been some fan criticism of GODZILLA(2014) because the legendary monster doesn't appear in the movie until about halfway through it. Was I annoyed by this? Perhaps somewhat but in no way does this detract from my overall enjoyment of the movie itself. Godzilla(2014) is an "origin" story if you will and it takes some time during this movie to introduce and move forward events(past and present) that gradually lead up to the first full reveal of Godzilla in this movie. I think it works fairly well, a credit to director Gareth Edwards, himself a self described Godzilla fan.

Godzilla(2014) fared quite well in worldwide box office receipts, particularly in the United States and China. The movie had a budget of $160 million and generated over $500 million in worldwide box office receipts. Hopefully Blu Ray, DVD and general merchandise sales associated with this film will increase that number. A sequel has already been announced by Legendary Pictures, tentatively scheduled for a 2018 theatrical release...and with the inclusion of other classic Toho monsters King Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra!

More than anything Godzilla(2014) brings the legendary monster back to his roots and is, like most of the Toho Godzilla films, a movie that presents Godzilla as a force of nature.

Without further ado some observations about this film, directed by Gareth Edwards, mostly positive:

Thumbs up:

-Godzilla is well rendered in this film. There were some gripes from G fans about the monster looking "fat". I would use the word "bulky" which is still an understatement. The monster is a lumbering, 350 foot tall juggernaut, even larger than any of the 100 meter Toho variations of the creature. Godzilla's length is even greater and the monster is longer than many of the U.S. Navy frigates(about 450 feet long) he swims underneath as he approaches San Francisco.
I liked the attention made by those tasked with rendering the monster to make Godzilla look old. The creature's face looks weathered and old but that coincides with Dr. Serizawa's description of the monster in the movie as being a creature that's been around, well a long time.

-Bryan Cranston's performance as nuclear engineer "Joe Brody" is terrific. The actor brings emotion and distress to the film as events occur that build the suspense in this film. Cranston is one the human cast member of Godzilla(2014) who I thought actually contributed to the overall quality of this film.

-the M.U.T.O's - I went into this movie unsure as to whether I would like the designs of these monsters or not. I found the MUTOs to be creepy and a worthy adversary for Godzilla. The male MUTO is winged and smaller than the larger female(the male is around 60 meters tall and the female is 300 feet tall). Both MUTOs are mutations and I found it hard to find anything in nature to compare them with. They possess both insectoid and bat like qualities...if that makes any sense.
Both creatures give Godzilla a hard fight as the creatures all converge in San Francisco and battle it out, demolishing the city.

-the choreography of the final monster battle: Godzilla and the two MUTOs engage in a brutal battle in SF. The fight is mostly physical battling. Godzilla also employs his trademark oral beam to lethal effect.

-the overall special effects are stellar. CGI has come a long way since movies like The Lawnmower Man(1992) and the CGI in Godzilla(2014) is totally top notch!

Thumbs down

-the performance of Aaron Taylor Johnson as "LT Ford Brody". First off I admired this character in the movie, a brave young man who is clearly a good guy with heroic tendencies. I did have a problem with how Aaron Johnson portrayed the character. He was, for me half comatose from a personality perspective throughout the movie.

In summary, I'd say Godzilla(2014) is easily a terrific Godzilla movie and should satisfy die hard G fans with bad memories of the '98 Centropolis G movie.

Highly recommend G fans and more casual fans of Godzilla buy this movie on Blu Ray and/or DVD!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Anchors aweigh : JUGGERNAUT(1974)

Seems like the older I get the more often I come across a movie I've seen before...and completely forgotten all about. This is most definitely the case with the 1974 British suspense thriller JUGGERNAUT. The title of this film is also what the villain in this movie calls himself, a madman who has planted seven bombs on the luxury cruise ocean liner "Britannica". The owner of the company that owns the liner, in conjunction with the British government, dispatches a team of bomb experts to the ship to try and disarm the bombs.

I actually saw this movie in a theater as a kid. Not sure what drew me to this film as a youngster but it was probably due to my fascination with ships and because I was still suffering from a personal "Poseidon Adventure" hangover. Highly recommend JUGGERNAUT(1974) to anyone who hasn't seen it!

I'll be buying the Blu Ray of this film and it gets released on September 9th. Click the link to purchase JUGGERNAUT on Blu Ray at Amazon: JUGGERNAUT(1974) Blu Ray

JUGGERNAUT(1974) is also available on DVD(MGM) and can be purchased online at Amazon as well: JUGGERNAUT DVD(MGM release)