Letters from the Pandemic (aka Al's written review of Godzilla(2014))

I have contracted COVID. It's nobody's fault.

Don't worry though, whether just through luck or because I received my first shot of the Moderna vaccine, I've been incredibly lucky and had the mildest symptoms, if you can even call them symptoms. My greatest struggle has just been the 24/7 isolation and attendant boredom.

Tuesday wasn't too bad. A sunny day in the low 60s meant I could sit alone outside for a few hours and... get sunburn.

In March.

That day I read an entire 600 page novel (Caliban's War, second novel in The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey). It's been over a decade since I've done that (I miss those days of Harry Potter novel releases).

Since then I've broken up a couple rainy days in the dark of the basement of my house, alternating between reading, TV, movies and video games. I figured if muscle confusion works for weightlifting, to keep any particular exercises or regimens from becoming rote and the gainz from plateauing, then keeping my entertainment jumping around would help me survive over a week of isolation without boredom.

It was a nice theory.

I'm bored to tears. That's how I came to watch 2014's Godzilla alone on a Thursday night.

Courtesy of Legendary Pictures

With Godzilla vs. Kong releasing a couple days ago, I figured I should go back and actually watch Godzilla, unlike when I kinda, sorta faked my way talking through it as a preamble to our Flix & a Six episode on Kong: Skull Island.

Kong: Skull Island was a good movie. Really enjoyed that. Godzilla was not.

It's hard to fully put my finger on why, other than to say, in keeping with the theme of my being bored to tears the last few days... this movie bored me to tears, or rather, to sleep at least.

I fired up the movie on HBO Max at about 9 PM. I wasn't particularly tired, not having done anything all day, and the first half hour had me interested enough. Cool little intro, compelling mystery/family drama/sci-fi horror prologue leading into Act 1 made me want to see what came next. The problem is, the movie comes to a screeching halt after that. It's a full system collapse, as poor casting, poor acting, poor dialogue and directing all come into play (although on the direction and cinematography front, the final Act shows signs of life).

Everyone loves Bryan Cranston, and they should all love Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn, as well. I could extremely take or leave Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen has won me over through WandaVision (check that out if you haven't yet). The movie chooses to dispense with Cranston early on (spoilers?... this review has spoilers), which is a choice, and restricts the talents of Watanabe and Strathairn to exposition. That leaves the incredibly "meh" ATJ and Olsen to do the majority of the heavy lifting.

Realistically, it all falls on Taylor-Johnson's shoulders. He isn't up to the task.

It's not all his fault. The script does him precisely zero favors. There's entire sections of this movie where there's nothing happening or nothing relevant being said (or at least that's my sleepy recollection of the middle third of this movie). There's blocks of exposition that say nothing of interest and blocks of time where I wish they would actually explain what's going on but don't.

This would all be fine if it had dynamic action sequences but those largely don't exist either, until the final 20 minutes of the movie. All the action of the first and second act is a tease that leaves you hanging. This movie is all pledge, with no turn or prestige. You can't have an action movie with no action, especially if the bits in between don't give you a reason to stick around. And frankly, I just don't care about the human element here.

I cared about Bryan Cranston's wife dying in the prologue. He is a superb actor, and so I felt it when he sent his wife to investigate an anomaly, and in so doing, sent her to her death. I believed it. I felt no connection at all to the rest of the cast's plight for the ensuing 90 minutes plus. No amount of weepy dialogue and pained expressions, no slow motion struggle or heroic sacrifice, no thousand yards stare could move me on this for the rest of the movie. I just didn't care what happened. Show me the monsters.

They barely do. It's by far the least compelling action of the series that I've seen so far; K:SI has excellent action sequences, whether monster to monster or when the humans mix it up with foes above their pay grade. Ditto Godzilla: King of the Monsters (at least from the clips I've seen). The best this movie has to offer is a visually stunning HALO jump (and it is gorgeous to watch) and some haunting shots of Godzilla wreathed in smoke.

That's just not enough for me.

So wish me well, as I try out the (hopefully better) rest of these movies. They can't be worse.


Follow us on Twitter @SpinchoonSports, @TheSpinchoon, and @AlessandroB1187. Check out our podcasts Flix and a Six (on movies and beer) and Game Bites (on video games) on Apple, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to podcasts.

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