the other theo

There is no dark side of the moon really… as a matter of fact, it's all dark.

Category: Movies

Gojira, Lord Of Storms

Among several other activities last weekend, I managed to see last year’s second attempt by Hollywood to make a real kaijū eiga, Godzilla.

I was very pleased to see that it was far, far better than the first attempt… which I can’t even bother to watch all the way through.  While it is flawed, it definitely fits in the canon with some genuine thrills and spectacular visuals.

The Good

Godzilla emerging from the Stygian depths to put the smack down on some giant insect-looking creatures, that’s classic Toho.

Visually equating Godzilla with the forces and balances of nature (storms and tidal waves presage his appearance), hail Gojira, Lord of Storms!

Effectively turning Godzilla into a Lovecraft-ian Old One, that’s cool.   “In his house at R’lyeh, Gojira waits dreaming”.

The inversion of the Godzilla from creature deprived of a home by humans and the atomic bomb to corrective force of nature unconcerned with humans was an interesting one.

Visual references to most of the large scale human disasters in the last 15 years worked well.    We had, in no particular order: nuclear reactor failure on a Japanese coast,  tidal waves destroying large swathes of coastal shoreline, and another massive destruction in an US city.

The new Godzilla design and roar were awesome.

While Pacific Rim embodied the brightly colored Godzilla movies of the 60’s and early 70’s, this movie reached back for the moody atmospherics of the original 1954 film.

The Bad

You could tell that Bryan Cranston and Juliet Binoche had to be doing it for the love, because their roles were FAR too small for actors of their talent.

Ken Watanabe was also under-utilized.   He tried to go for the stoic sort presence that Takashi Shimura had in the 1954 film but it didn’t work for me.

The first person narrative of one character at all the points of action was too difficult for the film to sustain for its entire length.

The Ugly

After watching the movie (only once), I awoke the next morning  and realized that I couldn’t tell if the final battle took place around Chinatown in San Francisco or Chinatown in Oakland.  Since it was shot in Vancouver, that’s not surprising, I guess.   I think they even got the BART logos wrong at one point.   Would recognizable landmarks be too much to ask?

Bryan Cranston’s toupee was beyond awful.  I know he’d just come from filming Breaking Bad and all, but still.

The stupid stuff:

  • floppy disks that are still readable after 15 years in a dilapidated house with data files that modern software can still understand,
  • inconceivably stopped traffic on the Golden Gate when San Francisco is being evacuated that no one seems to doing anything about (and a bus driver who doesn’t roll down a window to hear what a cop is saying),
  • eggs of creatures that can survive dormant for millions of years being destroyed by a gasoline fire,
  • a clockwork nuclear fuse that somehow uses absolutely no electrical circuitry to trigger a nuclear weapon,
  • a nuclear missile that six guys can carry like a casket or a coffin.

 

The Tale of Two Tales: My Thoughts Concerning Winter’s Tale (The Motion Picture)

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a motion picture called Winter’s Tale.  This is how it ended:

Peter Lake, a thief and mechanic mysteriously transported from Manhattan at the turn of the 20th Century to present day Manhattan by falling from the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River, fights his former patron Pearly Soames, crime boss and (secretly) demon in league with Satan (played by Will Smith), in front of the Summer Cottage of the Penn family at the Lake Of The Coheeries in Upstate New York.   Peter defeats Pearly by driving a lump of metal through his skull, and lays a recently deceased Abigail Gamely in a special bed in the house constructed by Willa Penn to save Peter’s true love Beverly Penn (Willa’s sister) a century earlier from consumption.   While the bed did not work for Beverly, it now works for Abigail and miraculously cures her cancer and brings her back to life.   Peter Lake then gets on his white horse named Athansor (also transported forward in time) and rides into the heavens to join the spirit of Beverly in the stars.

Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, there was a novel called Winter’s Tale.   This is how it ended:

Peter Lake, a thief and mechanic transported from Manhattan at the turn of the 20th Century to Manhattan at the turn of the Millennium by falling off his flying horse Athansor into a mysterious Cloud Wall existing outside space and time that appears just outside New York Harbor, fights his former patron Pearly Soames, crime boss brought forward in time with his gang the Shirt Tails as a cosmic balance to Peter’s growing supernatural powers, in Manhattan as three things happen:  all of New York City burns in a millennial reckoning that will re-make the city through a crucible of fire, a Promethean figure named Jackson Mead attempts to throw a bridge of light from the City to Heaven, and Hardesty Marratta and Virginia Gamely Marratta journey to a graveyard on one of the outer islands of the City where her daughter Abigail was recently buried after dying from a mysterious illness.  Pearly defeats Peter, who has become the registrar for the faces of all the lost, forgotten dead children of the City in a miraculous vision, by ramming a sword through his shoulder at the collar bone down through his torso.   As Peter dies, he sees his wounded horse, who also fell through the Cloud Wall, escape the Shirt Tails, leave the the bounds of the Earth, and fly to heaven.   Jackson Mead’s attempt to throw the bridge fails, but Peter’s sacrifice causes a change to the cosmic order, redeems the City, turns the Cloud Wall gold, and brings Abigail to life just as her parents dig her up.   Pearly lives on in the new, changed Manhattan in reduced influence and circumstance because a good, just city cannot exist without the balancing existence of evil.

Hollywood tried, honestly.  It was a valiant effort.  It took someone with talent to even make the attempt, though some questionable choices (like Will Smith) were made.  They just couldn’t come close in three hours, and failed miserably.