Started on Letterboxd.
I don’t watch blockbusters like these too closely, just in a corner of my screen — all the exposition and time spent just getting from place to place really bore me, as does wanton destruction — but there are moments of beauty in Gareth Edwards’ monster movie that made me punch full-screen. There’s formal beauty even — as the camera dollies across an airport terminal with human panic in the foreground, monsters stride in the background; as Godzilla falls slowly underneath a WTC-size building, wounded eyes on his counterpart human warrior before him, and a cloud of dust puffs around his head and swallows him, the camera dollies in; as spread-eagled paratroopers trailing scarlet spumes freefall onto Tokyo, we see the sequences from several different angles and perspectives, and the soundtrack goes quiet. It’s a sequence that lasts far longer than it needs to for narrative coherence but exactly as it should for poetic impact. There are a number of shots in which the foreground and background compete for attention, two different actions and settings happening simultaneously, usually contrasting the world of the human with the battlegrounds of the monsters.
Yes, I loved those moments, too, and Edwards does direct his monsters as far more human than his humans, who spend most of their time looking up at the sky in awe and/or running. It’s not because he’s suddenly become a follower of Miyakazi, but because humans rarely matter in CGI blockbusters like these anyway, and the stakes are purely monstrous. So this is a step away from his relationship-focused indie sci-fi Monsters. Godzilla doesn’t suggest humanism, or animism. It’s just plain old cynicism, not to mention theism. But that’s why Edwards is getting the big bucks now.
I was planning on giving this 3 stars because the sequences mentioned really are good, and the fight scenes between the monsters convey a smidgen of the pathos I used to experience watching the dubbed originals as a kid (which I experienced as troubling and erotic); but David Erlich’s absurd 4.5 star review on Letterboxd ticked me off so much, I took it down a half-star.