Friday, July 29, 2016
GODZILLA RESURGENCE: "This Is Bad. This IS Bad!"
In October 1995, following the main-event match at WWF In Your House 4: Great White North between WWF champion Big Daddy Cool Diesel and The British Bulldog, company owner Vince McMahon reportedly threw down his headset and declared, "Horrible!" Completely disappointed with the quality of the match, Diesel's title reign would come to an end the following month.
That was my immediate reaction to seeing Godzilla Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla), though I think my exact quote was more along the lines of, "Stupid!"
Some spoilers will be contained herein, but really, this movie is so devoid of surprises or excitement that I'm not sure it's even possible to spoil this thing.
Where to begin? Well, for starters, I suppose if you like government bureaucrats with no backstory, no character development, and very little to set them apart from each other aside from their taste in neckties, you might find some enjoyment here. Because that's what the movie is: When Godzilla is not onscreen, the bureaucrats talk to each other. Then they walk down a corridor to resume their talking elsewhere. To spice things up, director Hideaki Anno puts his wide-angle lens to work in order to film extreme closeups of the bureaucrats as they talk -- in case we wanted to see the worried looks on the bureaucrats' pores.
But I really must touch on the absolute worst moment in not just this movie but the entire series. (That is no exaggeration, by the way.)
When Godzilla is attacking Kamata (the site of the first teaser trailer that was released late last year), it's revealed to be an early form of Godzilla. This form of Godzilla looks like a googly-eyed Muppet that got kidnapped from the Sesame Street prop department. It hurriedly crawls around on all fours (!) like a demented hamster in search of a wheel big enough to handle its girth. My jaw literally dropped when I first saw it, but not in the way the filmmakers intended. Of course, given the folks who worked on the film, it too looks like it went to the same plastic surgeon Jack Napier visited in Batman (1989). Suffice it to say, it was hideously stupid and laughably ridiculous. Later on, it transforms into the version we're all now familiar with from the trailers.
If it weren't for his legs or tail, Godzilla would almost never move. He just plods around Tokyo, looking like he had nothing better to do with himself. There's no sense of wonder or awe. There's no sense of what people on the ground must be dealing with. Godzilla's victims are all faceless extras. Everyone we get to know is some bureaucrat who's doing his or her best to look stoic. Trust me, it gets old real quick.
The movie further degenerates from there. Godzilla has the ability to fire lasers from pretty much all parts of his body, and after our first light show, Shin G suddenly decides to go into hibernation until the climax. The military defeats Godzilla in a preposterous way (which even involves the use of commuter trains!), and then it ends.
That's it. There's no story. There's no beginning, middle, or end. It just happens, and then it's done. To say the very least, it's not a satisfying movie-going experience.
To make matters worse, there's constant use of old-school, Tsuburaya-era sound effects throughout the film. So, even though the visuals we're seeing onscreen are meant to recall the real-life horror and devastation of the 3/11 tsunami, the sounds we hear recall the imagination and joy of the Showa Godzilla series. Way to mix your message, guys.
My verdict? It's the worst of the series. Yes, worse than Godzilla '98. But, even more surprisingly, worse than Godzilla (2014), whose biggest crime was simply being bland and boring. This was completely misguided from start to finish, and the lack of a strong producer (like Tomoyuki Tanaka or Shogo Tomiyama), who guided the series for years between different directors and screenwriters, was felt in a big way.
I had a feeling this would be the outcome. I hoped against hope I'd like it, but in the end, my fears that this "visionary filmmaker" (i.e., cartoon director) would end up delivering a stinker were unfortunately confirmed. Let's hope Shin Goji is the last of its kind.