On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., the U.S. dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, Japan. 80,000 people lost their lives that day, and within two months another 80,000 from that one bomb alone. A sad historical mark for humanity.
In some ways, equally sad is the realization that a common vernacular term in recent years, used to denote something good, has been “the bomb”. Humans can be rather twisted. Fortunately that bit of slang is dying out.
I bring up that historical note because it is important in the Godzilla franchise. Indeed, that sad day is the very reason Godzilla exists. Godzilla is Japan’s metaphor for nuclear weapons. The monster, Godzilla, has appeared in more than 28 movies. The two previous American incarnations, 2004’s Zilla, and 1998’s Godzilla, were in my opinion lame and meaningless. In my Godzilla world, they didn’t happen.
However, this new Godzilla is something else. It is the best encapsulation of the mythology to date. No point is left untouched. It starts off with an eye to modern times, with the opening credits being heavily redacted, and touches on almost every Godzilla point between now and that fateful day in 1945.
The production is craftwork from start to finish. The actors do wonderful work. The direction, cinematography, and editing is captivating. In modern movie making it is often hard to separate these three fields. Certainly the cinematographer controls the camera, the director coaches the cast and crew, while the editor sits in their dark room counting exactly how many frames a shot will linger before the next cut. These three must work closely together, the director knowing what the cinematographer sees and having a good idea of how many lingering frames the editor should have. This teamwork is evident in this movie all the way through.
The soundtrack is what Godzilla calls for – big. The use of the surround-sound is masterful, putting us inside the space in the very first scene. The monsters’ (plural) voices are both traditional, fresh, and strong.
The 3D work is equally apart of the direction, cinematographer, and editor team. There aren’t any silly flying arrows over the audience kind of stunts. Instead, there is a real world layering, often seeing things through windows, car doors, and other nearby objects that create a “you are there” feeling. Beyond that, the director and editor tantalize you with hints and fleeting glimpses, often concealed by some 3D foreground object. The effect makes you want more, until they are finally ready to feed you the battle feast.
Well worth the ticket and the glasses.