Saturday, September 20, 2014

Time Travel is Possible!

I was transported back in time last night while I sat on my couch and watched the movie that played on our television. I never believed in time travel but always thought it would be amazing if it were possible. With my son's most recent paycheck, he purchased the DVD for a movie he had seen a few months ago in the theater. Knowing how much I enjoy movies and thinking I'd really like this one, he was eager to sit and watch it with me. (I love that we share a penchant for movies.)

What was this movie that had the ability to return me to my childhood? Why, Godzilla, of course.

The story begins with a family living in Japan. The mother and father work at a nuclear power plant. An accident happens, and the mother is killed. Fast forward 15 years, and the son is serving in the military in the States. He must go to Japan to bail his father out of jail for trespassing in a restricted zone. He just wanted to go back to his old house and gather some of his belongings … and discs to prove the existence of an unknown species.

While in Japan, the father and son end up at the old power plant and come face to face with the creature (or its offspring) that was responsible for the prior destruction. Once this creature, which feeds on radiation, decides it has had enough of Japan, it travels to Hawaii, which just so happens to be where our hero, Ford Brody, has a layover on his way back to his wife and child in California. Honolulu is destroyed, and the military follows this MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object) to Las Vegas where it proceeds to decimate the city and eat anything it can find that emits radiation. Oh, and whenever it chooses, it can emit an EMP to wipe out everything electronic and shut down the grid.

MUTO backtracks (wait, it might actually be the other half of the MUTO couple … how cute!) to San Francisco where it meets up with Godzilla who has not really made any kind of appearance until this point. Of course, Godzilla knows that this is where the action has to take place since Ford's family lives there. There would be no suspense if it weren't for this fact. I guess the other millions of lives don't really matter.

Now, as I watched Godzilla last night, I tried to work at the same time. I wasn't getting anything done, so I closed my computer and focused on the movie. I was actually enjoying it, right up until the point when the male and female MUTOs had an affectionate moment. These massive extraterrestrial creatures that towered above skyscrapers met in the middle of a crumbling city and hugged … or kissed … or something. It was at this moment that I was transported to my childhood.

I was sitting in my living room watching Godzilla. Extremely poor Japanese actors played out the scenes with even poorer quality English dubbing over the original Japanese. Godzilla fought every strange creature that the creators of these movies could think of. They wrestled, they threw each other, they bit. It was like watching a WWE match before its time.

This 2014 version of Godzilla was only missing the dubbing. Godzilla and MUTO1 and MUTO2 threw each other into buildings with no regard for the people who would be crushed as the structure toppled. There are only a few times we are asked to care about the loss of human life. Once is when a school bus full of children tries to make it across the Golden Gate Bridge before Godzilla tears the bridge apart. It just so happens that Ford's son is on this bus. Another time we are asked to consider the human element is when Ford's father pays the ultimate price. If they had only listened to him when he was alive, they might have avoided all the mayhem. But, then, there wouldn't be a movie. And don't forget Ford's wife who is working as a nurse in an area hospital. She stays behind to take care of the sick (of course) and is almost crushed as Godzilla and MUTO continue to destroy the city.

I won't give away the ending of the movie, though I'm sure you can figure it out as it follows the same story line as those old Godzilla movies. I did find some things quite humorous as I watched this newest version (besides the kissing MUTOs). The military thought they could inflict their own damage on Godzilla with their puny military-grade weapons. Really? Godzilla is a gigantic creature covered in hard skin and scales who is known to eat his own fair share of radiation, which came in quite handy in his fight against MUTO. Out of nowhere, Godzilla breathes blue fire filled with radiation. He only does it twice, so he is not a show-off, but it seems strange that he is able to summon his radiation breath right when he needs it. If he didn't have this, would he have been able to win the battle?

There were points when I thought the movie might be truly frightening … if I could actually see it. We had to turn the lights out so we could see what was happening on the screen. Most of the action took place at night or in a city so dark from dust you couldn't see what was going on.

I feel like the writers worked hard during the first half of the screenplay but then chose to rely on the past for the second half. It was predictable, and it was hard to watch. I've recently seen a two-and-a-half-hour movie that felt like it lasted 30 minutes. I remember thinking at one point during Godzilla, "Wow, this is a long movie." It is 123 minutes long, and we were just over an hour into it. I suppose when a movie is predictable and replete with repetition (fighting monsters knocking over buildings) then it will seem long.

I can recommend the first half of Godzilla but not the second. It's just not worth it. I feel bad. My son loves the movie. I enjoyed watching it with him, but unless you're a die-hard Godzilla fan, it will seem to be lacking some … things. If you're in it for a chance to just kick back and forget about reality, then go for it. If you're looking for a plot, you might want to look elsewhere.