Cinepub


Review: Godzilla (2014) by Jamie

I’ve tried to keep this spoiler free but it’s hard to tell what people consider spoilers these days so be forewarned. You may be unintentionally spoiled in some way.

In 1954 the Japanese Toho production company brought a King to the Silver Screen. His name was Gojira, soon to be Americanised to the admittedly better Godzilla, and he would begin a cinematic legacy that would last for sixty years and counting. He has been many things during his storied career from destructive force of nature to wacky good guy who saved Japan from a host of other monsters and back to destructive force of nature again. And there was that American film produced in 1998. That one was… well. Yeah. It just wasn’t Godzilla.
So when I heard the news that the Yanks were going to take another shot at bringing the King of the Monsters back to the screen, I was a little concerned. This concern only grew when I heard that Gareth Edwards was set to direct, my concern originating from the fact that he had only directed one feature length film before, Monsters, which left me slightly underwhelmed. And the trailers started appearing and I was ready to get excited.

It’s hard to describe how it feels to be a fan of a film series that, to be fair, has not always been stellar and then finally looking forward to something new from that series. I grew up watching Godzilla films, Son of Godzilla in particular which is easily one of the worst of the bunch but it played a big part in my childhood so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Hell, my pet gecko is called Godzilla because a) I love the king of the monsters and b) reptile owners are not the most original people when it comes to names. To be fair, there aren’t that many famous reptiles to go to for names. It’s pretty much Godzilla, Dino from the Flintstones and Rango. Godzilla is clearly the best out of those three… I’m sorry, I seem to have become distracted. Where was I? Oh yes, feeling excitement for a Godzilla movie. It was truly a wonderful thing, especially after that ’98 piece of shit that for all intents and purposes killed Matthew Broderick’s career just like he killed two people that one time in Ireland. Look it up.

And so the weeks went by and the release date grew closer and closer and I took the time to revisit every Godzilla movie ever made, twenty nine films in total. It was a bit of a long haul but overall an enjoyable experience and so I felt properly prepared and primed for the King’s return to the silver screen. Finally, the day of release came and I was working so I went the following day. Would the film see Godzilla reclaim his crown or would it be another American turd in the Tokyo punch bowl? Christ, that was a lot of preamble.

Simple fact straight up: I loved this film. Loved it. Is it a perfect film? No, not by a long shot. There are definitely a few things that could have been done differently, a few casting decisions that could have been corrected and a few special effects decisions that maybe didn’t sit right with me but overall, I loved this film.

Perhaps we should start with the things that weren’t so great. First up, a lot has been made about Aaron Taylor-Johnson and how he’s just not that great in the film and it’s true that he is probably the weakest link in the film. I’m not going to go all the way and say he’s bad, though he does exhibit a few moments of ropey acting here and there. Fact is that he doesn’t have much of a character to work with. He’s something of blank plate which I believe is deliberate attempt by the film maker to allow the audience to put themselves in his position, projecting their thoughts and feelings on to him. It’s an age old storytelling trick, one that was recently most successfully employed in the Twilight series. The fact that a girl can easily imagine herself in the place of Bella is what makes those things so popular despite being poorly written pieces of trash. Yeah, I just bashed Twilight. Deal with it. Unfortunately for Johnson, a lot of people didn’t want to be taking his place, experiencing what he was experiencing. They wanted to see monster fighting and during the middle of the film, it dragged a touch simply because Taylor-Johnson is not a giant monster.

There is also the problem of Taylor-Johnson’s character very conveniently finding himself able to easily move from location to location where all the monster action is taking place. I suppose it could be easily explained by saying that he’s a member of the military so he’d be able to move with the armed forces to where he and they need to be and also what are they gonna do instead? Leave their main character behind whilst the monsters fight elsewhere? Still, it does occasionally stretch the limit of believability in this giant nuclear lizard movie.

Finally, the biggest problem I had was the M.U.T.Os. I was not a major fan of their design, seeming as they did a little bit too Cloverfieldy and then there’s that name. Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism is what M.U.T.O stands for and it seems like such an unnatural string of words to put together just to get an acronym which sounds a little bit like mutant which is obviously the reason that that name was chosen. Which is a shame because M.U.T.O. just sounds fucking stupid coming out of an adult human beings mouth. Seriously, any time someone said it, particularly David Strathairn, I cringed. Just stupid. Frankly it was the kind of role that could have easily been filled by a second-tier Toho monster like the Praying Mantis-esque Kamacuras.

Now on to the good and frankly this all comes down to this being a Godzilla movie and whether or not it is a worthy continuation of the big guy’s saga. This was a Godzilla movie and frankly, I’m surprised by just how much it followed some of the conventions of the series and not just the original ’54 Godzilla as I was expecting. Villainous monsters showing up first to wreak havoc? Check. Humans trying but failing to solve the problem? Check. Godzilla awakening from his slumber to sort shit out? Check. Even the music was perfect. It was loud, it was bombastic. It was everything I wanted from the score for a Godzilla film though I’m perhaps a little disappointed that Akira Ifukube’s Godzilla March wasn’t used or referenced but I suppose you can’t have everything.

Now on to the main event. The Big G himself, Godzilla. There has been much discussion about the fact that Godzilla has so little screen time in the film. This is true. Personally, I loved this choice. It made all the time that we actually got to spend with Godzilla all the more impressive and impactful. Besides, I never felt as though he was missing from the film. From the first time he shows up in Hawaii, I felt his presence was there. Just scenes where you see his dorsal spikes sticking out of the water, flanked by aircraft carriers, as he hunts his prey help to convey his size and really build up the anticipation for that awesome final fight. Seriously, if there is one thing that this film does great in my opinion, it is building up anticipation.

I love the redesign though I did originally agree with some Japanese fans that he was a touch on the chunky side though once I saw it in action, it fit in with this Godzilla’s more bear-like movement and way of holding himself. And of course there’s the roar. The roar is beautiful and really should be heard in a cinema to truly appreciate it. Yes, just like this IS a Godzilla film, this IS Godzilla. I felt his personality come through in the limited time that he was on-screen and it genuinely felt like a certain Godzilla from a certain period of his film history. There’s even one moment which really caught me off-guard in which is probably the best moment in the film, a moment I shan’t spoil here but when that moment occurs, I was literally grinning from ear to ear. The King had returned.

So yeah, like I said, I love this film. I can understand the frustration that some people have with the film but personally it’s a frustration I do not share. Would I hate this film if it weren’t a Godzilla movie? Hate may be a strong word but I definitely would not have enjoyed it as much. It’s the things that make this a Godzilla movie that largely make it enjoyable to me. So yeah. Four pints out of five… And in my long winded ramblings, I realise that I have largely overlooked the actors so lets just say good cast overall though some are criminally underused. *cough* Bryan Cranston *cough* Laterz.

Snowtown_(film)



Review: Inception by Jamie

Another spoiler free review. Well, I say spoiler free but since the plot of Inception has been kept so quiet, pretty much everything is a spoiler. No endings or anything will be given away though. Also, I’m sorry if this review seems a bit weird or if there are more spelling or grammar mistakes than usual but I hit my head pretty hard on Saturday night and I’m having a hard time focusing on what I write for too long. Anyway, enjoy.

Christopher Nolan has certainly made quite a name for himself round Hollywood way. The man seems to be a master story teller with a real flair for incredible visuals. Essentially he’s a world builder, taking odd or interesting concepts which could easily seem otherworldly and bizarre and manages to ground them in some sort of plausible reality. Take ‘The Dark Knight’ for example. He managed to make a man dressed as a bat trying to stop a terrorist dressed as a clown seem perfectly rational. That takes quite a bit of genius to achieve.

So when the hype began to build around his latest film, ‘Inception’, the world began to take notice. The trailer didn’t give too much away and the plot remained fairly under wraps until the films release. In fact the secrecy surrounding the film is probably the most impressive thing given that we now live in the internet age where things are leaked or crew members accidentally give things away on Twitter to such a degree that you often know the plot of a film before you go in. Somehow Inception managed to avoid all that which must have been pretty sweet for a big summer blockbuster.

So what exactly is the film about? Well, to tell you exactly would be kind of spoiler territory so how can I do this properly. Well, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team are a bunch of extraction experts who use their special skills and equipment to head into peoples dreams and extract important information and secrets. The title Inception comes from actually implanting ideas inside peoples heads which is apparently very difficult to do.

The film looks about as stunning as you’d expect something from Christopher Nolan and his cinematographer Wally Pfister (Hehehe, Pfister) to look. From the streets of cities to snow covered mountains, it’s all very crisp and clear. The CGI is impressive as well, particularly the scenes you’ve probably seen in the trailer of streets rising up to a 90 degree angle. The important thing and something Nolan seems to be pretty consistent with is that the CGI is used very sparingly. After all, as one of the characters says in the film, dreams are generally pretty normal and you don’t realise you’re in them until you notice something amiss or something really crazy happens.

There’s also a nice sprinkling of physical effects as well. For example there is a scene in which a fight occurs in a zero gravity environment and, as I understand it, all of that was done practically with a giant tube that span around a lot of something. I did know the technical term for that once but the smack to my noggin seems to have knocked it out of my brain box. Fuck. The point is that it’s a kick ass action scene as most of the action scenes are.

In fact there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding this film about how complex and intricate everything is but to be fair I didn’t really see it that way. I actually thought that the whole thing played fairly straightforwardly as a slightly more intelligent than average action film would. Of course I think the level of complexity that you consider the film to have all depends on how you take the final scene. That’s all I’ll say about that. If you have seen the film and you want to know my take on it then you’ll have to ask me in person, over twitter or over facebook or something.

All of the acting is fairly solid though some of the characters were the kind of stock characters you’d find in any heist film (and yes, at heart this is kind of a heist film). You’ve got you’re intelligent and cautious character who just wants to get the job, you’re comic relief who’s a bit cocky, you’re character who’s providing the money and the job in the first place who’s never done a heist before but insists on coming along anyway and you’re rookie who’s brought in because they’re skilled in a specifically specialised job that the team needs for this mission. In a lesser film this kind of thing would annoy me but here it all works fairly well and most of the characters are fleshed out a little better than what I’ve just written would suggest. Fuck feeling woozy again.

There is one major problem I did kind of have with the film though and I’m afraid that in order to address it I’m gonna have to enter some very light spoiler territory. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want anything at all revealed then perhaps you should go away now. I was going to give the film four and a half out five anyway and highly suggest you watch it so there you go.

Right, are they gone? Good. Ok, the only real problem I had was the fact that everyone keeps on going on about how difficult inception is, how hard it is to implant a fresh idea in someone’s head without them realising that it’s been planted there but to be honest it kind of seemed as though it wouldn’t have been that difficult if not for the fact that their target had had his mind trained to protect itself from extraction and one of the crew had severe problems that was infecting the targets dream state. Honestly, it looked their mission would have been pretty damned easy if not for those two elements but hey, I guess I’m kinda nitpicking here. Oh, speaking of nitpicking it did seem to me as though Joseph Gordon Levitt was kinda young to be an expert at extraction but hey, he turned in a solid performance so I guess I can let it slide.

Right, I’m sorry, I’d love to write more on this review but I’m just having trouble concentrating on words being typed on a screen without feeling really dizzy so I’m gonna have to stop. Maybe I’ll have another, fuller review written when the Blu-Ray comes out and everyone’s had a chance to see it. I’ll sum up by saying Inception is a damn fine film but I didn’t find it as complex as everyone’s been saying. In fact, I found the Joker’s plot in ‘The Dark Knight’ and the way he played everyone in Gotham City to be far more complex but again, I think it all comes down to how you take the ending. That’s it, apologies again but I have to end this now. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.




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