best line in a movie about monsters and monster fighting dogs

GODZILLA (1998) Retrospective

Since at least two of you asked for it!

GODZILLA (1998) has been discussed and dissected and unpackaged and packed again and re-unpackaged and just about everything else that can be said about it.
But…screw it, I’m feeling smarmy.
G'98, as I’ve said before, is competently made. It has some excitement, some neat effects, and a handful of amusing…well, not “characters.” Lines. It has some amusing lines. But even with all of this Hollywood money behind it, and despite how high profile the whole pile of nonsense is, the entire production is slathered in a conspicuous layer of mean-spirited animosity towards not only the franchise its allegedly rebooting, but the audience as well.
Ok, let’s get this out of the way - I, as well as many a fellow Godzilla fan, had a similar reaction to this movie that a lot of moviegoers had to THE PHANTOM MENACE in 1999: the initial response was one of reserved enthusiasm. “Oh wow, I’ve been waiting for a big-budget American Godzilla movie for so long!” was the rallying cry. And we were not going to let ourselves be disappointed. But it was there: that clawing doubt in the back of your head. It’s a form of denial, practically. One grown from hope and optimism and sheer bloody block-headed unwillingness to be disappointed after one of the admittedly greatest marketing campaigns of all time. But as talk spread, and opinions formed, most of us fell in line with an equal number of fans who came out of the theater with a blood-blinded hate in their eyes.

It’s not Godzilla. It wasn’t Godzilla. It’s never going to be Godzilla.

All of the fancy effects in Hollywood couldn’t hide the fact that the filmmakers had no intention of creating a Godzilla film.

But I digress. Good points! Good points, good points…um…
Okay so overall, it’s a lavish production. The money is definitely all over the screen. Impressive sets and location shooting, not to mention a plethora of miniature work. The CGI is decent enough for the most part, though sadly lagging somewhat behind JURASSIC PARK (1993) with its clever and conservative CG, and only a few steps ahead of REPTILIAN (2001).
As for the monster itself, yes, I think most will agree that it’s an cool design. It’s got lots of little details and an elegant, powerful shape. The box-like head and dragon like neck add to a very distinct silhouette. Patrick Tatopoulous is on his A-game with this design.
Honestly? It could pass as a Godzilla. And it did, in my opinion, not long after. The animated GODZILLA: THE SERIES, which follows the events of the film, does its damnedest to honor the legacy of the series while also sticking well to the new “rules” established by the film. I find it to be one of the best reinterpretations of the Godzilla concept to date, and proves that the design CAN work, depending on how much of a purist you are.
The cast is…well, it’s not an untalented bunch. And there are attempts made to make them likable. Matthew Broderick fits the awkward nerd scientist profile well enough, and he’s endearing enough. Jean Reno gets a little too much lip service towards being “the only good thing in the movie,” but while he’s not exactly stand-out, he does have some of the funnier moments. Hank Azaria is at his best when hitting his comedic timing just so, and that’s all that can really be said for the cast.
The trouble with these “funnier moments” is that this is how the entire cast is written almost constantly. There’s little in the way of weight or gravitas to what’s happening. Now a monster movie can be light hearted, ala PACIFIC RIM (2013), but the characters are all so damn flippant all the time to the point where the film feels like it’s a parody, but a parody that, rather than finding its humor in awkward situations or by being referential to its source material, it simply tries to continuously hammer jokes (the SAME jokes, many a time) at the audience just in case they become bored by the events of the film.
This is one of the core problems that branches out to affect the characters and the tone overall. The women in the movie seem to be making constant reference to the incredible sexual magnetism of Broderick (clearly I’m missing something), and then there’s the shrill, obnoxious, totally unlikeable like the general, the paleontologist, the TV anchor, Animal’s wife, and God help us, Maria Pitillo. She’s not unwatchably bad but ugh a big load of eeeeeuuugghhh, especially that weird crying scene.
Again, nobody seems to be taking any of this seriously, and that would be fine if it was actually FUNNY. But it’s so constant and so aggressively low-brow and then downright mean (HAHAHA ROGER EBERT IS FAT AND HE DIDNT LIKE OUR MOVIES SO POO ON HIM) that it becomes positively exhausting. Oh and, yes Roland. We get it. THEY’RE FRENCH.
Then there’s the tone. As I said, comedy is the name of the game. Weird, forced comedy. But the movie begins with so much foreboding menace, with “Gojira” slowly making its way towards Manhattan, and in a really impressive scene makes landfall (again, amidst all this weird comedy). Then, when his babies are destroyed (we’ll get to that) and once more when he’s gunned down on the bridge, Zilla is presented as aggressively sympathetic. But the rest of the film wants nothing to do with this hoo-man emotion you call SYMPATHY, you feckless dogs. Zilla is an enemy first and…nothing else. There’s never any question of the moral implications of the creature’s presence, and Zilla didn’t really seem to kill anyone (except when the babies started eating people), and just caused a ton of property damage. On top of that, Zilla only really gets to fight back maybe twice to prove its menace, and even then it’s just this apparently terrible army we keep throwing at it. Zilla spends so much time on the run that we never really get the chance to be scared of him or even get any real catharsis out of the action.

The babies are a combination of two things: a second-act twist, and a desire to capitalize on JURASSIC PARK. And that’s it. I like the suits though.

And that leads us to another of the big problems here: the film’s lack of commitment. It seems intentionally bending over backwards to make the titular monster LESS impressive. The word for the day is “realism,” but when you throw science out the window in the brazenly psychotic manner that this film does, “realism” never enters the equation.
What this is a series of half-measures to try and water down the inherent awesomeness of a giant monster with “realism” as a smokescreen.

Look it’s not a poorly structured movie, and the script isn’t bad either. And it moves at a good clip. But the main problem people seem to have with it is that it fails as a Godzilla movie. Granted, some defend the movie as being “fine in its own right.” Arguments akin to “you should take the movie in its own context” and “don’t judge it alongside the rest of the franchise” get trotted out.
The inherent trouble with his assertion is that it assumes that movies exist in a vacuum. ANY movie is the greatest movie ever if you have nothing to compare it to. G'98 lost the right to be free of comparisons to other films the instant it was titled “Godzilla.” It’s also well documented that Devlin and Emmerich were openly contemptuous of the classic films in the franchise and had no desire to create anything like them. To them, Godzilla is a disposable b-movie-monster that happened to have more than one film made by a bunch of untalented, ignorant foreigners and the films are singularly remembered for their kitsch value. Tragically, this perspective is shared by more audience members than I’d care to admit.

It never occurred to these two that Godzilla may have been a series that was important to people, and that if it was nothing more than a big lizard, then it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has, and that we’d probably be watching Gorgo 7 and Reptilicus XXI by now. And therein lies G'98’s greatest flaw.

If you like the movie, there’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of people like lots of movies and not everyone understands why. Maybe this was the first monster movie you ever saw, maybe this is nostalgic for you. Maybe you just enjoy the effects or maybe you love Jean Reno that damn much.
Just try to keep in mind, when Godzilla fans say they don’t like this movie, that’s pretty much why.

On why I am done with OUAT or How to murder some of the only decent characters on your show (No hate intended)

   So as a devout Frankenwolfer, I can understand the pain of the fandom after last night’s crapisodes. I didn’t even watch the whole thing – in fact, I haven’t been keeping up with OUAT at all past the first 3 episodes this season. I just skipped to the Ruby/Victor parts.
   And all the excitement and hope I had been feeling since I found out that David and Meghan were returning burned to ashes and blew away. I’m not even going to get started on how mad I am at A&E for slapping us in the face with the ship we had been waiting for for three years. There have already been so many things said about how it was teased by Adam, Meghan, and David, how the story got shelved for Never-ending-land, how there was so much potential for the plot and characters that was wasted.
   But really, last night’s episode was just ridiculous. And the reason I have stopped watching is not just because Frankenwolf didn’t happen (although that is the primary reason) but because I am infuriated at how A&E treat characters who are not the Holy Mains.

First – Ruby:
   Okay, so she wanted to go back to the EF because she all of a sudden felt like she didn’t fit in, even though she was perfectly fine in previous episodes? And even in the season three finale, she was laughing and joking around, surrounded by all her friends, in the place which she said she loves. That was the whole point of her character. In ‘Red Handed,’ she finally found the place where she belonged; she was ecstatic when Granny told her that she was inheriting the diner.
   And in ‘In the Name of the Brother,’ (which I will probably never be able to watch again because of the pain) she found someone who she could confide in, someone who got her. And now, just like that, she wants to go back to her wolf pack where she didn’t fit in and leave her Granny, diner, and friends, to whom she had been unconditionally devoted to? What the whaaaa????
   And the fact that she had been growing magic beans with Tiny? Then what the hell was all that fuss with the wand about?
   But the thing that makes me so angry is that Ruby was my favorite character, and A&E completely retconned all the things I loved about her. Her fierceness, her devotion, the fact that she was a little broken inside, but had begun to heal. And making her feel as if she didn’t belong in Storybrooke, and by forcing her with Mulan, they overrode her entire character. She was never shown to be into women. And after her talk with Victor, she realized that she was a monster and that was okay. It didn’t make her a bad person, just different. I don’t blame her at all for wanting to fit in, but the whole point was that she didn’t need to. She was proud about who she was. So in one blow, they not only killed Frankenwolf, but destroyed the entire premise behind it.

Mulan:
   I have no words. The fact that they took the protagonist from arguably my favorite Disney movie of all time and screwed her up… I will never forgive that. Again – they completely got rid of everything that made Mulan… Mulan. In the movie she was a strong, independent, progressive young woman, who wouldn’t let anyone, either male or female, keep her down.
   And you’re telling me that this same Mulan, Ms. F-the-patriarchy-and-its-stupid-laws-Imma-do-what-I-know-is-right, would abandon her entire moral honor code and for what? Because she was rejected by a married pregnant woman who knew nothing of her affections? I’m not saying that she doesn’t have the right to be hurt. She does, 100%. But never in a million years would I expect her to react like that. I know that characters in OUAT are not carbon copies of their film/book characters, but their underlying personalities are undoubtedly the same.
    And in the movie, Mulan, despite being yelled at by her father to “know her place” and later being revealed and humiliated in front of the Imperial Army still fights to protect her kingdom and her honor. Where is all that in OUAT? She was a badass warrior, and A&E reduced her to nothing more than a scorned woman.
   And there is so much more to her than that. There’s so much more to Ruby. Most of the Disney stories are centered on love, but theirs was not. Even Emma’s story somewhat makes sense because all the men she has ever loved have abandoned her and/or died, and she is trying to hold onto what she has now. But slapping these two women together practically out of the blue makes them nothing more than love interests, and defeats the purposes of their entire arcs before this.

Whale:
   My heart weeps tears of blood for this guy. When I skipped to his parts and he lit up the screen in all his snarky glory, I was so happy I was actually giddy. But in retrospect, the way they treated his character after all this time was so disgusting I was shocked David even agreed to guest star.
   Whale went from being a respectable doctor to a baby-delivering prop. Out of all the characters A&E have screwed over, his is one of the worst. Again, there are so many could/should/woulds out there about all his lost potential, but last night just convinced me that the showrunners have absolutely no respect for his character (like when he returned after a prolonged absence in season two just to spend 10 seconds under Rumple’s boot). At least with Ruby, they had the decency to create a backstory, no matter how crappy. But what about Whale?
   Like FrankensteinMD pointed out, “this was a man who attempted suicide, and now he’s cracking jokes.” I get that David was probably still in ‘Blaine mode,’ but he is a fantastic actor. If the writers cared enough to give him something to work with, I have no doubt he could have pulled it off. But instead we see that Victor has regressed back to his cursed-Whale-persona, and even though sassy David is the best David (and I will admit that I loved his one-liners and attitude) it just does not fit with where his character left off.
    Where has he been? What has he been doing? If Ruby left, has he had anyone with whom to talk about his problems? Why he seemed sort of, dare I say it, happier? I think? Did he ever get resolution with his brother? I mean, Victor was such a complex, layered character with so much to offer the show, and now he’s just the poster child for Storybrooke General Hospital.
   And the wall throwing? I will admit it. I laughed. But I was caught up in the moment, and when I think back on it, it was such a cheap shot. They used the man as his own punch line. And it made absolutely no sense in the context of the scene. So Emma walks in, but instead of attacking
a) the one woman in the room capable of using magic
b) the admittedly badass-former-thief-turned-puppy-dog-love-interest who would fight her being the father of the child
What does she do? She hurls the poor (un)suspecting doctor against the wall and knocks him unconscious. Like why? What was the point? I mean what the hell was he gonna do, diagnose her into submission?  Ugh.
   David deserves so much better than this. He’s incredible, and anyone who’s seen his performances in any of his other shows, especially Alias and now iZombie has little room to argue. I hope he never comes back to the show, because I can’t bear to see him or his character treated like this again. May iZombie boost his career, and give him the long overdue recognition he deserves.

Bottom line – I’m done with OUAT, and nothing will get me to come back short of them fixing what they did to their minor characters, and making Frankenwolf canon. But since neither is going to happen, well… And what hurts the most is that they could have left Ruby and Victor alone. Yes, they were unresolved, but at least I could take comfort in the dreams I had for them and imagine that they were off being adorable monsters together. But no – they couldn’t even let us have that. Merida was right there and they still had to steal Ruby away. They destroyed a relationship we have been crying out for for three years to slap together one that has barely been a possibility for three weeks.

When the news of Ruby coming back first broke, many people were speculating that she would be the sacrificial lamb who the Dark Swan killed to further her arc. I was terrified and hoped with every fiber of my being that wouldn’t happen. Now I sort of wished it had. It would have been much less painful than the death they are dealing her now, and taking Victor and Frankenwolf with her.