Godzilla Shows Again and Again

Considered while watching Godzilla Final Wars again:

The Godzilla Cinematic Universe is massively more high-quality science fiction/space fantasy than Star Wars, Marvel, and DC combined.

Sure, there's a few stinkers across 65 years like the Roland Emmerich movie GINO, Son of Godzilla, All Monsters Attack, and arguably Godzilla 2014, not every film has a great plot or fights. But by and large, they're respectable work.

If I'm going to show someone just three Godzilla films, they'd be Godzilla (1954), GMK: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), and Godzilla Final Wars (2004); alternately for the last Destroy All Monsters (1968), similar basic movie but more serious, less awesome.

"One who depends on power will be destroyed by it."
—Xilian leader, Godzilla Final Wars

Tokusatsu is better than CGI, but Gen Orobuchi's Godzilla anime, Final Wars (a mix of Tokusatsu and CGI), & Godzilla: King of the Monsters show you can animate good Godzilla movies.

Compare to Star Wars: Two and a half good movies in the original trilogy, nearly a dozen garbage films since, a bunch of bad cartoons. Marvel: Maybe 5 good movies (Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy) and a bunch of recycled junk sequels. DC: The Dark Knight, Wonder Woman somewhat?, rest is Zack Snyderism at its worst.

What's the moral of Star Wars, post-original-Trilogy? "This is pod-racing!" or "kill your father and burn anything you should respect" or some shit. What's the moral of Marvel & DC? Punch "bad guys" and they'll be back next week; a lot of civilians die as collateral damage.

The moral of Godzilla, the truth you should've learned, is always that nature is bigger than mankind, that war brings only misery, that science without forethought and sacrifice brings only monsters.

What I'm Watching: Godzilla, King of the Monsters

Lovely film. The monsters look and sound amazing, the music is great, the monster fight scenes are long, complex, and more visible than the previous American Godzilla (2014). This really is on par with the Toho movies, and respectful. It takes thousands of people and $200M to accomplish what Ishiro Honda did with $175K ($1.662M after inflation), a few dozen people, and a rubber suit. They have a nice credit memorial to Haruo Nakajima (1929-2017), the original Godzilla actor.

The mythology and backstory for the monsters is a nice touch, the kind of pseudo-scientific gobbledigook Toho does. The literal deus ex machina plot device is annoying, but functional, it drives the plot along.

Naturally, I sympathize entirely with the villains. Their motivation is the only sane response; the evil megacorp (led by the dumbass CEO from Silicon Valley) and military trying to destroy the kaiju are insane and species-suicidal. Ken Watanabe is great, and Zhang Ziyi and Bradley Whitford (who I think of as TV's Frank Jr, but he was on West Wing) are interesting and given good lines. Most of the other Humans I could do without, especially the annoying screaming child and the "hero" who shares my name.

The credits sequence bears rewatching, there's a lot of details there and I couldn't follow all of them; and there's a post-credits sequence, so stick around for that. The next sequel should be interesting.

This is PG-13, but there's nothing above PG in it, and really should have been in a few places; it's obvious scenes were cut or written around to avoid violence and, uh, suggestive monster behavior. So I'm dinging it a half-star for that and the screaming girl who should've been the first one eaten.

★★★★½

What I'm Watching: Shin Godzilla

Recently I've watched the Godzilla anime, which are silly but sometimes fun. So, I felt I should rewatch Shin Godzilla, the most recent live-action Toho movie, by Hideaki Anno. I saw it in theatre, but I remember little of it.

The start isn't at all clear about the timeline. GMK, my favorite Godzilla movie, was based on only the original movie happening. This one doesn't even have that, Gojira has a new origin story.

The early form is ridiculous, it (normally I refer to Gojira as "she" since Minilla, Gojira Junia, Godzuki, and the terrible Roland Emmerich movie imply that she can reproduce; but here that's not the case so "it") looks kind of like Anguirus. Then it "evolves", recapitulating the costumes from the entire series… By the end it's the late '90s overpowered disco-ball of lasers form.

The mid-movie rampages are fantastic, and the SDF and US forces put up a good fight. This entire sequence is one of the best Gojira fights in any movie. Just horrifying and beautiful.

But the politics are most of this film, and Japanese politics are slow, boring, bureaucratic, bloodless and cowardly. Even if it's meant as parody, it's just not funny, it's exhausting. They literally spend half the film doing paperwork and formal meetings. The young rebel politician Yaguchi is OK, but the vast herds of men in bad suits and binders are so dull, and the supposed half-Japanese American attaché has maybe the worst fake-American accent I've ever heard. There are several others who have bilingual lines, so I don't know why they cast her.

Finally the heroic plan engages, in a race against the most stupid plan possible. They actually know what they're doing, get all the computer simulations and chemical engineering, use the city to fight Godzilla… But it's very stationary, and I find it anticlimactic.

★★★½☆ And it'd be lower if not for that epic central battle.

Update: On rewatching:

The ground-crawling instar is so adorable. It's the tiny head and goofy smile it has.

I find the Japanese bureaucracy as villain more interesting this time.

"Wishful thinking and armchair theories by the old Imperial Army in the last war led to 3 million Japanese lives lost. Beware of unfounded optimism."
—Shin Godzilla

Maybe ★★★★☆