SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the movie, reading this could ruin it for you. Maybe. But I doubt it.
Okay, now I feel better. Here we go-
I admit it. I went to see “Godzilla.” This most recent one, I mean. The 2014 version.
According to one source, there have been 28 movies featuring the big lizard since the original came out with an all-Japanese cast in 1954. I didn’t see that one. We had to wait two years for Hollywood to splice in a few scenes with Raymond Burr of “Perry Mason” fame, to make it more of a draw for the American market. I did see that one, and being old enough to have been an original viewer of the Original “Godzilla” to be released in the U.S. (and any number of the others that came in between), I feel entitled to go on a bit about this most recent release.
It’s overrated. It has all the usual stuff, the big scary lizard who has to fight other big scary monsters and who turns out to be a friend to mankind and a symbol for our need to give more respect to nature and maintaining and nurturing a natural balance. It’s the same big scary but eco-friendly movie it’s always been. But this one, the 2014 version, just didn’t have any kick for me. Maybe I’ve seen too many. Maybe I’m all Godzilla’d out. How many times can you do the same thing before it becomes a bit of a bore even if you do throw in a giant flying mecha-roach. Or whatever the hell that thing is.
Hint to Hollywood: Special effects will take you only so far. At some point a little more character development is needed. Beyond mecha-roach love just prior to the radioactive fertilization of their eggs. The whole floppy mecha-roach egg sack thing was revolting.
I find it difficult to feel anything at all for a giant mecha-roach.
I think my favorite of the big lizard movies is the one that immediately preceded this most recent incarnation. That would be “Godzilla,” starring Matthew Broderick and my old buddy from the Simpson Trial marathon, America’s true renaissance man, Harry Shearer. It came out in 1998. I don’t think they slipped in another between 98 and 2014, but they might have. It’s hard to keep track.
Nick Adams of tv’s “Johnny Yuma” fame, keeps popping into my head. I just took a look at IMBD and discovered why. Adams, did “Invasion of Astro-Monster” in 1965. The plot from IMDB, is that “Aliens from Planet X request the use of Godzilla and Rodan to fight off King Ghidorah, but have a better use for the three monsters.” Oh my. This time they threw in Nick Adams instead of Raymond Burr, to bump up the American audience draw factor. It could be that by 1965, Burr was so busy with Perry Mason, which ran from 1957 to 1966, that he simply turned up his nose at the deal.
It takes a big man to turn up his nose to an Astro-Monster.
However, Burr will forever be remembered as having been the first American to go on the big screen with the big lizard before the the motif moved on to Nick Adams (who according to IMBD was a good buddy of James Dean, which has nothing to do with Godzilla, I’m just throwing it in for the cool factor) and Matthew Broderick to whomever it was that starred in this most recent film. Oh wait, it was Walter White! That’s who it was! Bryan Cranston’s a terrific actor, I was addicted to “Breaking Bad,” but they killed him off 30 or so minutes into the movie. Which is another complaint I have about “Godzilla”2014. For me, Bryan Cranston was as important as the big lizard, but they killed him off so early on in the film that I had nearly forgotten he was in it. And he was the principle reason I wanted to see it at all.
It was like killing off Bogie thirty minutes into Key Largo. Shame on you. “But they were just going for the kid market” you say? Then why did they bother bringing in a heavyweight like Cranston? He can’t be working for cheap. Not after his success with “Bad,” unless it was to…… Hey, wait a minute. I was sucker punched.
If you really want camp, invite Mr. Peabody over for the evening, pop some popcorn, crank up the way-back machine and watch the Raymond Burr version from 1956. Beyond that, I think the 1998 version with Broderick has the best balance of special effects, good writing and fine acting. The 98 version may be the best Godzilla for adults. And if you want something that really rocks, go for the reruns of “Breaking Bad.” There’s no killing off Walter White. Not until the very end, Baby Blue…