Needless to say, my anxiety was unfounded. What a movie! This is what Hollywood needs as a template for a great film.
To begin with you don't need huge stars, with huge paychecks. Unknowns are often a much better choice for a variety of reasons. There won't be an expectation since the audience is unfamiliar with them. Matt Damon's lackluster performance in Elysium is a great example. His past acting in films such as the Bourne or Ocean movies, and especially Good Will makes Elysium look like a bad "B" movie. Viewers find that painful to watch, but you won't have that problem with mostly unknowns like Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen (little sister to Mary Kate and Ashley).
Granted, there are a couple of recognizable names. Most people are aware of Bryan Cranston and for those of us who like art films Ken Watanabe is one of the hottest men on the planet, no matter how old he is. If I had to list a cast fail, it would be that Watanabe wasn't used to his fullest potential. His few lines were just that, too few.
The monsters were fantastic. I'm not going to spoil it for those who haven't viewed it yet (I went in not knowing a single thing and am all the happier for it), but let us just say that they were well designed and their "characters" were well rounded. Explanations aside (that is coming next), their behaviors were just what you'd expect from animals which makes it very believable, which is a true achievement. This is because it is a story that is just so incredulous none of us ever worry that an event such as this could ever happen. We could believe that zombies will take over before giant animals do.
So what about the reality of an incident of this nature? Is it really all that believable? Actually, they did a great job in making something that you would expect to be overly complicated rather simple.
I remember watching a documentary about how the earth was made and there was a clock thing going. I think it may have been History of the World in Two Hours by National Geographic. Anyway, whatever it was it spoke about how toxic Earth's early atmosphere was, which seems to go hand-in-hand with their etiology behind the monsters.
There were a few nods to Jurassic Park, which I liked. One, I suppose, could argue that they "copied" JP but I really believe it to be more of a bow. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I feel. The similarity to monsters screaming creating fears beyond belief, the rain with children being caught in a vehicle and so on. There is one more similarity but I will not mention it since it gives away too much plot.
All that said, like the actors con if I had to list one thing I didn't like in the film it would be the endless fog and dust. On the other hand, it is VERY realistic. For those of you never having been to San Francisco one thing you need to know is that it is very foggy along the bay there. You don't often see that depicted in film. They usually want you to see a bright sunny San Francisco where you can clearly see the Golden Gate bridge. The reality is that you won't find that there very often. Also, we tragically learned a lot about what it looks like when large buildings collapse, in 2001. Combine those two realities and you get realism in Godzilla. Still, it was just too much darkness, in my opinion.
This movie had it all. It threw in a ton of historical nods. Chernobyl and the abandoned town of Pripyat, the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, the combined Japanese meltdown/tsunami disaster, 9/11 and the War on Terror. These are all memories that are burned forever into our brains. As we watch it in the film, we remember those moments in our past and then you realize that this is reality we're watching here. They have really thought this through!
Another thing worth mentioning that few have noticed: the animals. Anyone who has owned or understands animals knows two things:
- They sense disaster.
- They sense evil.
I suppose you could do a sum there. Disaster + Evil = Danger. Animals know danger better than we do. Why? We still don't know but humans know this to be true. The movie also alluded to that as well. If you're about to go see it, I'll only say watch the birds.
You know, when I started writing this I thought it was just a good movie. Now that I've written it up, I've come to see that it's so much more than that. It is a brilliant movie. Many undertones, a great story, great acting and the special effects are real and well thought out. That right there makes it an amazing movie! I hope it does well in dollars too.
Thanks to those who made it. You did a damn fine job of it!