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A film to make the Big Guy proud
on June 16, 2005
Okay, I know this is going to be a highly disputed opinion, but I think this movie is very, very good. Great, I'd even daresay. And I am a Godzilla fan. I love the Big Guy from his early masterworks to his campy mid-period to his new thrilling outings.
Admittedly, this is not the same Godzilla. But Godzilla himself is a product of the 50s fascination with giant monsters, and this movie is really just an homage to all those old, great monster movies. Anyway, I don't see why the universe isn't big enough for two Godzillas.
A lot of fans hated this just for the idea. But Tristar had to make a new version. The old version would've flopped in America. In fact, Godzilla 2000 came out about a year later, and it did terrible. So where were those so-called fans when he really needed them? I submit that there really aren't that many Godzilla fans. There's plenty of people who claim to be, but do they really like him or these types of films? Doesn't seem like it.
Onto the movie. First there's Godzilla. He's a terrific special effect. Some people say he doesn't look real. He looks pretty darn impressive to me. Realism is a rather silly complaint when you're talking about a giant lizard running through New York.
The story is deceptively simple. You could boil it down to Army vs. Monster, but there's a creativity here that gets overlooked. The characters (all of whom are well-developed especially considering none are the real star) are all likable. Their motivations are believable. And their story arcs are solidly connected to the central conflict in a way that doesn't seem forced.
The action sequences are wonderful. I like to think of them as monstrous versions of great kung fu showdowns. Godzilla isn't invulnerable in this film, and so when he fights helicopters, rockets, and submarines, I actually felt suspense, even though I knew he wasn't going down until the end of the movie.
The plot of Godzilla's young gives a nice excuse for some human-scaled action. The pacing is expertly handled. At two hours, there's still a lot crammed in here. The acting is good. Jean Reno's French military agent is beautifully understated. And the final end of Godzilla is both tragic and satisfying.
I don't love the last little bit, but to me it's not so much an advertisement for a sequel as a wink to those "THE END?" titles at the end of those great old movies.
Boy, this is a long review. I guess I'm just trying to make a case for this underrated and much-maligned film. Personally, I think the original Big Guy would love it. Although I'm sure his version would end a little different.