Directed by Gareth Edwards
I called it months ago: Director Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is the definitive modern iteration of Ishiro Honda’s 1954 classic, not only capturing the raw essence of the original but imbuing it with a needed current sensibility. Some missteps aside, this is the Godzilla you’ve wanted to see, and he, all 100 meters of him, is absolutely spectacular.
I’ll keep this short and sweet in an effort to not spoil the joy you’ll find in the Big G’s 2014 re-imagining (courtesy of Warner Bros., Legendary and Monsters director Edwards) and do little to spoil the narrative. The marketing push has more than likely already done that for you, but before I dive in, here’s a quick recap.
This is not Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla.
Edwards’ Godzilla takes place in three separate time periods: the 1950’s (in which the U.S. Navy discovers the last surviving member (Godzilla) of an ancient radioactive amphibious species surviving under the waters near the Marshall Islands and metes out a failed attempt to kill it with nuclear weapons), the 1990’s (in which a nuclear disaster dispatches the mother, actress Juliette Binoche, of star Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character, ‘Brody,’ and later his father as well, a scientist portrayed by Bryan ‘Breaking Bad’ Cranston) and in 2014 (in which the appearance of creatures known as ‘M.U.T.O’ [Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms] appear, which in turn elicits the return of Godzilla himself from the depths of the ocean).
It’s simple in metaphor for nuclear proliferation having unintended results (as the original Godzilla was for the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings). It’s relatively clean (in that it eschews many of the, let’s be honest, ‘cheesy’ narratives of many of the Godzilla films which preceded it). And while Edwards draws out audience expectation in the reveal of the character of Godzilla for nearly an hour (he holds dear to the tried and true approach of such films as Alien, Jaws, etc.), when Godzilla hits, it really hits. And it hits hard.
Does the film contain logic gaps? There are a few. Does it make questionable narrative choices? Sure. Are there occasional and questionable dialogue choices? That happens. Does it for some reason not feature the classic Godzilla score? Yes.
But what it delivers in sheer tone, scope, intensity and realization makes up for these things in spades. Godzilla has never looked this good. He is the sheer embodiment of what we have come to love and of what we have hoped he would eventually become. He’s real. He’s fire-breathing. His roar is intact. He’s dedicated to the sheer destruction of the M.U.T.O (which means unadulterated and epic kaiju brawls). He pays little to no attention to the U.S. military (he has leisurely swims while aircraft carrier battle groups stream in his wake). He creates tsunamis just by arising from the Pacific. He’s omnipotent yet organically real, and you will stand up and applaud on many, many occasions and with utter fan geekdom, for he is entirely that awe inspiring.
Oh, and yes, there’s an interesting Easter egg concerning another famed creature for the fans that need such a thing (like me).
Warner Bros. and Legendary accepted a daunting task, in that they needed to please not only fans of the cinematic character of Godzilla, but also a demographic perhaps unaware of his iconic place in cinema and, for a summer tent-pole, youthful audiences as well. This was a lot to juggle, and while without question there will always be those that would have wanted it ‘darker’ or ‘man in a suit’ or (insert whatever here), Edwards’ realization of filmdom’s most iconic monster is as spot-on as we’ve ever seen.
Get your ass into the theatre. This isn’t Pacific Rim. These are your childhood dreams come to life (or nightmares, if you happen to be a resident of San Francisco, Hawaii or Las Vegas).
Here’s hoping that Edwards tackles the eventual sequel… and to more Godzilla screen time. My only real complaint is that I wanted more.
4 out of 5
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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