Hard to believe that Juliette Binoche was in one of these things. A Godzilla film that is. Her character dies within minutes of Gareth Edwards’ 2014 film, a blockbuster I have fond memories of. It was one of those few Hollywood blockbusters that had some visual imagination. These films insist on involving Hollywood A-listers and it was one of the few films of its type that bothered to address the whole issue of scale. Like, this world is inhabited by giant lizard creatures and they’re huge. And that’s terrifying. I liked that Godzilla 2014 acknowledged and even explored that fact, exploiting our recognition of all these actors as a kind of cruel joke. Think Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960) or half the cast of Contagion (2011). I don’t really know what Godzilla 2019 is trying to explore. It’s just worse. On a purely visual level, it’s incomprehensible and meaningless with every scene involving these kaijus set to Biblical on the rain scale. And the Hollywood A-listers that opted to participate in this disaster seem to just be filling the silence. There’s two kinds of silences. In Godzilla 2014, it was a silence that amplified tension and inspired a tangible emotional reaction. In Godzilla 2019, it’s the kind of silence that just agonizes; I could feel myself biodegrading with every passing minute of this awful film.
Sally Hawkins is in this one. She lasts a bit longer than Binoche from the last one. Maybe in the next one they’ll get someone like Isabelle Huppert or maybe Kim Min-hee and she’ll make it to the end. Anyway, I could recount this ridiculous narrative but if you’re walking into these films for the plot then I mean: what are you doing? That’s the argument for these films, right? From the fans. Why are you bending yourself out of shape when us fans just want to enjoy these radioactive monsters fight one another. Well, I’ll tell you reader: those scenes aren’t very good either. It’s almost profound how unendurable some of these monster mashes turn out to be, insofar that there’s this very conscious effort to evoke some measure of lyricism out of a blob of reptilian mass. These scenes are composed in the dark, in the rain, in close-up, and are never, ever interesting. So instead we’re placated by a series of banalities involving our human characters. I remember when Kyle Chandler was a good actor. He tries. The film’s preoccupations about grief and/or despair are of the lip-service variety. Nothing about Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler’s anxieties over losing a child or Ken Watanabe’s gesture of personal sacrifice registers as anything other than vapid.
This quote unquote review is a bit of a mess. It’s been a rough year so excuse me if I’m not at the peak of my critical capacities; I’ve got other shit to worry about. But isn’t that kind of the point of a film like Godzilla 2019? Escapism? A mindless distraction? This thing is just capital G Grim. There’s a joke in here from Watanabe about giving advice he learned from a fortune cookie. Or lines like “God….zilla” or “Glad he’s on our side” with another character responding “For now.” Jesus fucking Christ. My eyeballs didn’t just do a full 180 rotation behind my skull; they checked the fuck out of my anatomy entirely, protesting against my brain for taking them to a screening of this film.