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David Poland

By David Poland

BYO Godzilla


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54 Responses to “BYO Godzilla”

  1. Tim DeGroot says:

    The climactic fight in GODZILLA reminded me of an interview with Michael Keaton where he said he used to torture his sister by sitting on her and spitting in her mouth.

  2. Pete B. says:

    Anyone else think that ‘Tell Me Something Good’ by Rufus, or another “Boom Chicka Wow Wow” type song, should have kicked in when the male MUTO climbed on top of the female MUTO? Now that would have made the movie a classic!

  3. Tom says:

    Really disappointed that we didn’t get a WEEKEND ESTIMATES BY KLADYZILLA headline this week.

  4. Bulldog68 says:

    Watched Pacific Rim on cable last night. Still think it has more bang for your action buck. While I moderately liked Godzilla, Pacific Rim had more of a pay off for me. It’s crazy to me that Godzilla would have made in one weekend almost what Pacific Rim in it’s entire run. For the life of me I can’t figure out why PR failed to connect with the same audience that Godzilla connected with.

    Any thoughts?

  5. KrazyEyes says:

    To me Pacific Rim was just as corny and lame as ALL the trailers and promotional materials made it look. Tonally, it didn’t connect with me at all and I found it to be a major misfire from Del Toro. It was better than the Transformers films but not by much.

    I haven’t seen Godzilla yet but the trailers have been awesome. It LOOKS serious and badass — Pacific Rim’s trailers never resembled either.

  6. SamLowry says:

    The title.

    And Walter White.

  7. Pete B. says:

    The problem with Godzilla is that the trailers are better than the actual film, and sell a false bill of goods.

    And Bulldog, after seeing ‘G’ in the theater, I leaned over to the wife and said “I appreciate Pacific Rim 100% more.”

  8. amblinman says:


    It’s a good question. I thought the campaign for Rim was actually well done. I disagree with Krazy, the trailer did a good job of hiding just how “kiddie” Rim was in tone and dialogue. I have no idea why Rim didn’t have a gigantic first weekend. It seemed like such a slam dunk.

  9. christian says:

    Godzilla is truly a “brand” -people forget that even the Emmerich version made huge money.

  10. Bulldog68 says:

    @Pete B,
    I was always a defender of Rim, flaws and all, because I felt it delivered all the gods that a popcorn flick of this nature is supposed to deliver, and in larger quantities than Godzilla did. And my wife was the one who leaned over to me and appreciated Rim a bit more after seeing Godzilla.

    Minute for minute there was more action, money shots, visceral excitement in Rim than in Godzilla. The character development I also give to Rim, where there was no character in Godzilla that quite stood out as much as the Asian fighter, whose sequence as a little girl facing down a monster was one of the best sequences of the summer. There was no similar moment in Godzilla. The closest was probably the sky jumpers and then it was all masked in cloud and smoke.

    Where Rim dared to move in closer, Godzilla pulled away to a news footage shot or the soldiers running or a door closing your view on the action that was then implied.

    Godzilla has the brand name that is for sure, but I still can’t explain why Rim failed to make it to at least $150m. Other unknown entities have done as much, and Rim had decent reviews, both critically and regular audiences. It baffled me last year, and it baffles me even more now seeing this Godzilla opening.

    Guess I’m not as smart as I thought.

  11. SamLowry says:

    I think the title “Pacific Rim” may have turned many off because it says nothing about what you’ll be seeing or what the story might be like. C’mon, Guillermo, you shoulda come up with something snazzier, something that doesn’t instantly inspire the name of a porn remake.

    (And who knows, maybe it was the victim of a Gypsy curse, though I did like the comment that “Gipsy Danger” sounds like a stripper name.)

  12. brack says:

    I liked Pacific Rim okay, but have not had an inkling to try to watch it on HBO, even though it’s on constantly. Where the lovers of the film saw character development and action, I didn’t see anything more than the worst of the Transformers movies. And the monsters were generic in the trailers.

    Gozilla has name recognition and a decent marketing campaign. Pacific Rim simply didn’t. It had geek audience and some action fans that got it a little past $100m, but it was too niche to ever become a big hit.

  13. Joe Straatmann says:

    I just find it funny these giant robot/monster fans are so fixated on thrashing Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla movie (Going as far to say Godzilla’s Revenge was a better movie. No no no…) and are so in love with Pacific Rim even though Pacific Rim is pretty heavily cribbing Emmerich’s Independence Day. Some characters swap importance to the plot, but yeah, the pilot who loses his best friend. The leader who used to be a pilot but has to come back into service to save humanity. The doctor who studies the alien creatures and is a little too obsessive over them, etc. etc. There are some differences, but the influence is there.

  14. SamLowry says:

    I made the mistake of using GODZILLA ’98 as a babysitting tool with some kids in their single digits and by the end they were practically crying. Why? Because they saw it as a movie about a mommy trying to protect her babies and the, uh, “good guys” killed them all by the end of the picture.

    Imagine if ALIENS had been told from the queen’s point of view. Yeah, Ripley is now the villain of the piece.

    (BTW, these kids were pretty tough–they had already seen THE MATRIX, so I didn’t think this one would bother them at. Didn’t count on the storyline traumatizing them.)

  15. Bulldog68 says:

    Brack I happen to think that everything is a niche until it isn’t. There is no reason why Divergent did $15om out of summer and Rim barely did $100m. Different niche, but a niche all the same. The Matrix is about as niche as they come, and after exploding then exploding again, it collapsed.

    Right in the same roundhouse was World War Z, a niche film if there ever was one. And yes it has Brad Pitt, but he’s not exactly a box office powerhouse. Why did that make twice what Rim did and it was not as well received both by critics and audiences? Just like Rim, most of the audience was unaware of the source material. Did it benefit from the fact that Walking Dead was the most watched show in Primetime at the time? Or was it uniquely different? Did Rim suffer from looking like a Transformers rip-off, and people were already severely scarred from Battleship?

    Maybe some or all of it were contributing factors, and maybe the marketing team for Rim just didn’t get the job done. Kudos to the Godzilla team. Even if it drops hard this week, to make way for the niche film, X-Men, it is already a success with $200m plus all but assured.

  16. Jj345 says:

    The problem with PAC Rim is that they marketed the movie to geeks and not kids. If I was ten PAC Rim Would have been my favorite movie. It would have been like Jurassic Park was when I was a kid. They should have made Toys a year and really get kids invested in the name and franchise. They really only marketed it to del torro fan boys and action films. Kids would have eaten the movie up in theaters, and by the second weekend WB gave up on the movie and didn’t change it’s campaign

  17. Bulldog68 says:

    That’s a good point Jj345.

  18. brack says:

    Bulldog – Divergent had a built-in audience. The book series is wildly successful, so it had that going for it. The Matrix had no competition, as it was released in spring of ’99, and at least had recognizable faces and looked intriguing for an action movie. WWZ had Brad Pitt and zombies, and while not a sure thing, it was well marketed as a “disaster zombie” movie.

    Like I said, it was the failure of the marketing of Pacific Rim partly, and partly because it didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be, and felt very underdeveloped for what is usually good filmmaking from the director. Perhaps marketing to kids would have been smarter. But as it was, it was a big question mark for audiences, and a lot of people passed. Plus let’s not forget Pacific Rim was competing with the huge opening of Despicable Me 2 the weekend before, and Grown Ups 2 in its opening weekend, which kids were already going to. And women had zero interest in seeing Pacific Rim. The next weekend it had The Conjuring to deal with, and Turbo. So perhaps it never had a chance with that kind of competition last summer.

  19. brack says:

    And if anyone is wondering why Godzilla is taking so long to be released in Japan, it’s mainly because the brand as a whole over there isn’t very popular anymore. The last Godzilla movie released over there in 2004 didn’t fair very well.

  20. Waterbucket says:

    Oh why, why must they lie with the trailer? The movie is corny and low budget while the trailer was great. Aaron Taylor Johnson also cannot act to save his life.

  21. Hcat says:

    WWZ had a lot more appeal in its familiarity than pacific rim. A bona fide movie star, the villain du jour with the zombies, and the hero as a hunky intellectual trotting the globe (which has made quite a bit of coin for paramount in the past).

    And that may be the difference, WWZ took an idea and turned it into a jack Ryan film while PR turned its into a live action anime. I might be in the minority that didn’t just dislike PR but actively Hated it with a capital HATE. Everyone was wafer thin bloodless sexless archetypes. The main characters fall in love, why? Not because they were compelling but simply because the plot sort of demands that type of thing, and so Hunnan can say funny flirty things when they hit danger.

    Basically Z was pitched at a wider swath than the geek crowd (plus was filmed in daylight)

  22. Monco says:

    Liked Pacific Rim but Del Toro fanboys are just annoying. I’ll take Godzilla any day.

  23. SamLowry says:

    Interesting how WWZ dropped the “daddy’s gotta fight his way home” plotline from the third act because it just wasn’t working, so GODZILLA picked it up and ran with it because the one thing we really need in action movies is the action continually interrupted by a wife wondering if hubby’s still alive and Junior wondering if drugs will fill the hole in his soul left by his absent daddy.

    Now you know why James Bond is a bachelor.

  24. LexG says:

    Another barn burner from Sam Lowry

  25. MarkVH says:

    “The problem with PAC Rim is that they marketed the movie to geeks and not kids.”

    There’s a difference?

  26. movieman says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by the new “X-Men” movie.
    Even though as a non-fanboy (and not really the biggest fan of the series) I missed some of the, uh, nuance, I had a reasonably easy time following the through-line of the plot and found the whole thing pretty entertaining. (Sort of like my usual reaction to an episode of “Game of Thrones,” in fact.)
    Of course, I’m a sucker for time travel stories. The fact that most of it is set in 1973 (one of my favorite years) was just gravy.
    And unlike most Marvel movies, the (excellent) actors are actually allowed to (wow!) act once in awhile.
    Especially good are McAvoy, Fassbender and dear Jennifer Lawrence.
    There’s also a terrific action setpiece (scored to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” of all things) that’s one of the cleverest and most satisfying I’ve seen in a comic book movie, maybe ever.

  27. SamLowry says:

    You’re welcome.

    I’m sure that if I’d seen WWZ in a theater I would’ve witnessed widespread groans and eyerolling when the wife couldn’t wait any longer for a call and ended up getting several people killed. Was it Pitt’s fault because he forgot to shut off his phone? Perhaps. But maybe he thought for just a moment that his mission was so important that he wouldn’t have to field “I love you, too” calls in the middle of armageddon.

  28. leahnz says:

    “The climactic fight in GODZILLA reminded me of an interview with Michael Keaton where he said he used to torture his sister by sitting on her and spitting in her mouth.”

    this is hilarious.

    i want gojira for my BFF, big G rocks

    (in the off chance Ray Pride is keeping up on this thread, re the subject of watanabe’s pronunciation in the other thread – i can’t remember which one it was to note there – he says ‘gojira’ perfectly with the combo L/D/R native japanese sound. actually, one thing in edwards’ flick that didn’t make sense is, strathairn’s admiral hears watanabe’s doctor call the massive creature by the name ‘GO-GEE-(LRD)A’ a couple times during exposition giving the background of the monster, and then next thing you know the admiral is inexplicably calling the creature GODZILLA, which logically makes no sense because a phonetic American-tongue translation of the name watanabe used would still be ‘GO-GEE-DA’ or GO-JILL-LA’, something of that ilk, but suddenly busting out the ‘DZ’ sound for the name goDZilla out of left field is bizarre in the context of the movie. i had some minor quibbles with the movie, which could have used tightening up a bit, and why olsen’s useless wife character even existed other than to grind the movie to a halt every so often is a screenwriter’s mystery, but for the most part i dug it – particularly gojira, too cool for school, i hope there’s more big GO in the next one after he has a nice long deep-sea bath to soothe his owies and boo-boos.

  29. Ray Pride says:

    Leah, that is my memory of how it sounded, too.

  30. leahnz says:

    i thought watanabe and hawkins as sensei and protégé were the human heart of the movie – the prof’s fear and awe of big Go was so palpable in his eyes and facial expressions, it all really means something to him (and as always Hawkins is nothing short of a delight in her limited role), it’s too bad they didn’t play an even bigger part in the story; after reading a few early comments i was bracing myself for a disastrous turn from aaron j, so his admittedly quite reserved performance didn’t strike me as that bad — clearly a choice was made by the film-makers that the character of ford was meant to be very ‘average guy’ish and emotionally repressed/withdrawn (elle – geeze the references to the Jaws brody family are thick and fast with this one – even says to him sarcastically when he’s expressing seemingly quite repressed anger about his n’er-do-well father, ‘yeah i can tell’, to needle Ford about his lack of emotional expression). now WHY the film-makers would go with this type of rather emotionless protagonist is kind of baffling, i’m not sure that some of the harsher criticism of Johnson isn’t better aimed at his character as written and directed and not the actor per se, as i think he’s shown in other projects that he’s capable of more animation and nuance, which was apparently not asked of him here. (olsen is a fine young actress, i can’t help but think that she could have been a more interesting protag somehow)

  31. SamLowry says:

    I keep wondering if the “annoying wife” scenes would work better if we found out that Pitt in WWZ was married to Nathan Lane. Or if Kick-Ass in GODZILLA was desperately trying to get back home to his husband, Channing Tatum.

    Of course I’m being silly since no studio would release a tentpole featuring a gay protagonist. They’re utterly dependent on foreign sales nowadays and far too many of the moviegoers in these markets are more likely to beat, jail or shoot anyone suspected of being gay than discuss the merits of gay marriage.

    Anyway, that flippant comment about GODZILLA obviously being a monster movie since it sure ain’t a Merchant-Ivory production made me think of the perfect way to pull that off: Godzilla, created by the Industrial Revolution’s toxic runoff, easily overcomes the puny weaponry of the age so the desperate heroes forsake Big Science and turn instead to Old-Time Religion…a really old religion, practiced by that secluded village desperately short of female virgins since they’ve all been sacrificed to the original monster from the deeps–Cthulhu. (Yeah, I know, it’s really Tiamat, but who remembers her anymore?)

    Cthulhu here represents old money fighting off the crude young whippersnapper with dirty fingernails who’s trying to charm his way into the pantheon. Are the Elder Gods up to the task? Or will they change the rules to let him in but keep the rest of the rabble out?

  32. leahnz says:

    SamLowry you’re an odd duck — how ’bout if ford brody had been trans-gender, now that would’ve added a fascinating humanistic layer to the ‘don’t mess with mother nature because in the end it will just bite you in the ass’ allegory and subtext of the movie (which was certainly needlessly cliché and gendered in the typical male-centric/sausage-o-rama depiction of the main characters/heroes and lesser supporting roles — also ignoring the fact that the original gojira was female, but incorrectly subtitled or dubbed in English as ‘he’ if i remember correctly… in this one Go is breathlessly called a ‘he’ from the start, like they’ve somehow observed its giant genitals or something, when ‘it’ would’ve sufficed perfectly as a pronoun to describe a massive monster of indeterminate sex, ‘omg here it comes, it’s fucking huge!’ ‘it’s fighting the other monsters, our saviour!’ but no.)

  33. SamLowry says:

    …maybe a transgendered hero would be the only one who can think like a unique entity that can’t find a mate?

    (I think my gay focus may be atonement for that novel I mentioned previously, which featured a villain who was not only gay but a mass-murderer with serial-killer tendencies. Yep. At least I made it clear at the end when the healing nanomachines start spurting hither and yon that they cured his murderous tendencies but left his sexuality intact.)

  34. leahnz says:

    your novel sounds pretty trippy and fucked-up sam (not it a bad way – i wouldn’t mind some healing nanomachines for myself please)

    out of left field but your second paragraph brings to mind the controversy Demme talks about a bit in the excellent ‘making of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS’ feature doc, re the backlash from some gay/transgender advocate groups about the stereotypical portrayal of Jaime Gumb as a gay/transsexual killer; demme felt terrible that people had interpreted it that way (he’s such a lovely ‘up-with-people yay-for-diversity!’ type of guy i felt kind of sorry for him). i think it’s made quite clear in the film that violent psychopath Gumb is not an actual transsexual, but rather he has just convinced himself that he is as part of his warped pathology rooted in self-loathing from systematic abuse as a child, which results in his obsession with becoming something/someone else, in his case a woman for which he is making himself a skin suit…

  35. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Leah – just curious, you are aware of the etymology of “Godzilla”? It’s a portmanteau of “Gorilla” and “Kujira” (whale), with the katakana (indicating non-traditional words) of:

    ゴ – go
    ジ – ji
    ラ – ra

    The ジ comes from the modified シ “shi”, and is something of an aberration within the modified character family:

    ザ – za
    ジ – ji
    ズ – zu
    ゼ – ze
    ゾ – zo

    In this respect, a western “dz” reading would not be unusual given the phonetic family root and the “la” is a western pronunciation from the “Gorilla” root (despite “l” not existing within the Japanese phonetic alphabet). Watanabe’s pronunciation is not necessarily the “correct” one given the word’s foreign roots.

  36. Martin says:

    Pac Rim’s budget was about 40Mil more than Godzilla.

    Japan’s late release is based on their calendar. Summer Break, if you can call it that, doesn’t kick in until July.

    The drop in kaiju popularity is due to the weakness of the studios. They don’t have the capital to make it work. The most expensive Godzilla film, ever, was around 20Mil. The also-ran studios can’t even play on that scale. Even with the render farms in Japan, they’ve never been interested in finding a way to compete, so it’s been less riskier to collect a license fee.

    And all the bitching about Taylor-Johnson is inane. I am friends and aquainted with many people who do and have served. Aaron’s actions/reactions are very accurate. These people don’t emote in pressure situations like we see on screen.

    The entire movie is about dislocation, from the moment Cranston and Binocche put their son on the bus to him telling her to “not wait and just go down there”. Sanjira’s skeletal ghost town, a parallel for the Muto layer in the Gojira fossil, are moments lost in time. The Muto’s use of echolocation is the Ford’s missed cell phone calls. The male Muto returning to the female and their children, are the Ford’s mirror. I tend to believe this was Darabont’s input.

    And then Ford’s dedicated soldier is paralleled to Godzilla. Both keep moving towards danger, risking their lives, because it’s instinct. That’s the point of the final eye contact between the two.

    The only big problem is they spent too much time on the Muto’s. I understand it was done to build up the threat level so when the end comes, the audience erupts. But the design and insectoid personalities are too Western to be as interesting as Godzilla. Their storyline is pretty much culled from the original Rodan, but that design had a personality. To me, they settled on insects because it’s so geometric, it’s easy to render.

    I really, really want to read the earlier drafts. You had ghost writes from Darabont and Goyer that went uncredited, so I’m curious to see what the Cranston/Edwards/Legendary rumors are based upon.

  37. SamLowry says:

    He may have behaved like a real soldier, but who wants realism like that in their entertainment? What’s next, you want everyone’s homes and apartments to be much smaller?

  38. leahnz says:

    hey foamy, jts yeah no i know the general gist of the origins of ‘gojira’ to ‘godzilla’, but the subject at hand (which started in another thread, you may not have seen it, i can’t even remember which thread) didn’t pertain to any of that really, it was specifically the ‘proper’ pronunciation of ‘gojira’, which i’d lamented as being pronounced by some white dude who claimed to be a fan in some video as ‘go-gee-Ra’ – like a cheerleader Ra Ra – which offended my delicate sensibilities ha ha (i took 3 yrs of nihongo in high school, which i’ve mostly forgotten, been to japan a couple times, i’m far from an expert but i know from proper pronunciation a bit), then Ray pointed out that in Edwards’ film watanabe’s character refers to the creature as ‘Gojira’, which was a huge relief – but i wasn’t clear on Ray’s take on watanabe’s pronunciation until i’d seen the movie. (i consider the ‘correct’ pronunciation of ‘gojira’ – regardless of its origins – as that in the ’54 original film and that of native Japanese speakers, which is thankfully how watanabe pronounces it in this new incarnation.
    fwiw my ‘godzilla’ complaint was specifically in the context of the new movie (i don’t know if you’ve seen it yet) wherein the character of the US admiral hears his expert professor say ‘go-gee-(ldr)a’ a few times and then inexplicably begins to call the creature Godzilla; it has nothing to do with a translation or origins, it’s literally one guy hearing an expert say ‘go-gee-da’ and then mimicking the sounds he hears as ‘godzilla’, it makes zero sense. (you’ll see what i mean when you watch it, if you haven’t already)

    i think ford was meant to have that calm reserve of someone in the military accustomed to dealing with bombs, but perhaps a bit more intensity in the role wouldn’t have gone astray while staying true to a sense of ‘realism’

  39. christian says:

    i find it unfathomable that the studio cut out a cameo with original Godzilla actor Akira Takarada. I was waiting for at least one or two major tribute moments, which I assumed would include Takarada. But no, we needed more face time with Elizabeth Olsen. And to not use ANY of Ikufube’s iconic score seems almost perverse. And disrespectful to the memory of the original.

    Edwards has a definite gift for filming monsters. Humans? Not at this point.

  40. Martin says:

    I was stunned by the Takarada cut, too. I had to check and see if something happened to him before they shot it.

    That’s one of the reasons I find the Edwards/Star Wars signing so interesting.

    Tull’s quick reply reads carefully worded, as if Edwards is contractually obligated to be involved, but they don’t want to admit they can’t force him to direct.

    So I think after all the rumor mongering about script issues, final edits and whatnot, that Edwards is out and if they really want him back, he gets more control.

  41. Smith says:

    Anyone seen X-Men? I went last night at the 10pm sneak. I think it’s easily the best X-Men movie since X2. Totally satisfying, exciting, and funny. Manages to do pretty shameless fan service in a way that feels creatively justified, and it manages to succeed both as sequel to First Class and a complete Reboot of the mothership franchise.

    Another thing – while there’s a post teaser tag obviously setting up a sequel – I can’t even tell you how refreshing it felt to watch a giant comic book tent pole that didn’t feel like it only existed as an excuse to set up a half dozen other networked films. Even when this approach is done well (Cap 2) it bugs the hell out of me. Glad to see not every studio (and who would’ve thought that Fox would become a model for franchise management) is so insecure about future investments.

  42. Hcat says:

    Glad to hear that the new x is strong, it was my big question mark of the summer.

    As for Fox being able to manage a franchise, has anyone ever been better? Hell going back to the first apes sequence they have excelled at the lowest drops in quality between installments. And after a few years of conceding the crown to Warner’s it’s nice to see than back in the mix for being THE action studio.

  43. Amblinman says:

    “And all the bitching about Taylor-Johnson is inane. I am friends and aquainted with many people who do and have served. Aaron’s actions/reactions are very accurate. These people don’t emote in pressure situations like we see on screen.”

    Perhaps when you’re more acquainted with people who have served while face to face with gigantic monsters who herald a potential apocalypse, your anecdotal defense of Johnson will carry more weight. He was a blank in scenes not involving combat or pressure. Which is the point of the criticism of his performance: his reactions don’t change regardless of dialogue or circumstance.

  44. Smith says:

    Yeah, folks who defend Taylor-Johnson by saying he’s like real vets or returned soldiers they know… I mean, ok, good for him, I’ll give him props for that I guess, but the performance still doesn’t work – at all – in context.

  45. Joe Leydon says:

    Smith: Doesn’t work for you, maybe.

  46. Martin says:

    Perhaps when you’re more acquainted with people who have served while face to face with gigantic monsters who herald a potential apocalypse, your anecdotal defense of Johnson will carry more weight. He was a blank in scenes not involving combat or pressure. Which is the point of the criticism of his performance: his reactions don’t change regardless of dialogue or circumstance.

    There’s a difference between not liking an actor’s traits and not liking the actor’s portrayal.

    Modern soldiers would not reflect in the moment of the “herald of a potential apocalypse”. That’s antithetical to the training, because it undermines reaction time. I can’t speak to what kind of distinction Edwards wanted because the one really charged scene between Ford and his wife via cell phone,(where he implies he’s probably going to die and the kind of reflection you’re looking for), was marketed heavily and then cut.

    Evans was just as unemotional as Cap as Taylor-Johnson. The difference is Cap plays costumed straight man to an over the top and glib world, so it’s all melodrama. Godzilla bounces tries to skirt melo as much as possible but the premise makes it near-impossible.

  47. Amblinman says:

    Martin, I get it. But you’re threading the needle. A strong(er) actor could embody the traits you’re referring to while still conveying the drama of the moment. That’s what they do, the good ones anyway. Johnson wasn’t any better in the early moments with his wife prior to leaving for. Japan than he was in the rest of the movie.

    I think it’s possible he was going for the traits you’re describing and missed, resulting in coming across as more of a blank than still-waters-running-deep.

  48. leahnz says:

    i’m with joe, having seen the movie twice now i’m going to stick up for aaron here because i think the dismissal of his entire performance is, while certainly someone’s prerogative, not indicative of every viewer’s across-the-board condemnation of Johnson as Ford Brody. maybe it was a deal-breaker for some, but while brody may not have set the world alight he also didn’t ruin the movie for me or clearly many others. yeah a more nuanced ford brody character would have been great and probably added a valuable layer to the film, but Johnson’s somewhat flat portrayal didn’t stall the movie for me (that was more elle brody, through no fault of olsen, who was so pathetically underwritten her existence did far more harm than good to the flow of the narrative).

    and i have to specifically disagree with the above; aaron’s early scenes with wife elle and his ‘crazy’ dad were fine – good, loving chemistry with olsen and the frustration and pity and annoyance and disconnect with his father are there — and when brody is playing with his little boy in the beginning, ford is animated and happily in his element, and this perhaps says something about his character, a very young guy who’s been emotionally traumatised and then clearly repressed his emotions and become a shut off, reserved young man (which i guess one could argue is what made him suitable for bomb stuff in the first place, chicken/egg). his character IS under-cooked and fails to kick it into another gear after what happens to his father, which i consider the fault of the writers trying to fit too much into such a sprawling story for which the human characterisations largely suffer; aaron’s performance is less than riveting in some of his reactions, particularly to the huge fucking monsters where ‘wide-eyed’ seems the default setting (he has beautiful eyes), kind of bizarre but i suspect as much if not more of a film-making rather than performance-based issue; how much and what type of emotions are asked of an actor, aaron’s other work would seem to indicate he has some depth in his tool box.

  49. leahnz says:

    also – nothing quite like the double-post to yourself after a rant – but i was thinking after: ‘kick ass’ is a testament to aaron’s pretty decent comic timing, and i could swear there were moments when i felt like aaron/ford just wanted to bust out with some kind of weird and hilarious reaction when he ‘sees’ some of the shit he does, but he just felt so constrained (maybe greenscreen was an issue). i can’t help but wonder how a bit of subtle levity injected into brody’s brevity might have turned out, even just as a foil for the dead seriousness of the rest of it, not to goof it but i think aaron could have pulled that off actually, he’s kind of naturally goofy and they didn’t necessarily play to his strengths

  50. Bulldog68 says:

    I’m going to lean to the side of Aaron was working with the material that he got, and the makers of this Godzilla probably wanted to stay as far away from levity as they could in order to be a stark contrast to the much maligned Emmerich version.

    I had no real problems with his performance but I do get why some would think it was wooden. I just chalked it up to his military training as already said, and the fact that maybe he was dealing with issues of abandonment, re his mother dying, and his father being viewed as a crazed lunatic and wasn’t there for him.

    I think he’s quite a good actor when given stuff to work with, and I actually like the fact that he is virtually unrecognizable in his three most high profile roles to date, Kick Ass, Savages, and Godzilla. I’m not saying he’s the world’s greatest actor but he has that chameleon like quality that lets him become the part he’s playing. He was by far the least of the problems in Godzilla. I had a problem with the cutaways to guys running on the ground, or to a TV screen showing the action, instead of witnessing it live. To me it was obvious they were trying to keep that budget down.

  51. christian says:

    The problem isn’t his acting – can somebody tell me where the script gives him an iota of character or personality or interesting dialogue? It’s a terrible script period and stupid – “Stay in SF honey where the monsters are headed and hopefully I’ll make it out there on the red eye to save you.” Those Olson/Son scenes are like flashbacks to Emmerich – replete with a later scene of a dog running from destruction.

  52. Bulldog68 says:

    totally different topic but seeing that Dave hadn’t put up box office figures, thought I’d just mention that Frozen just passed Iron Man 3 for the 2013 Worldwide Box Office Champion Trophy. Who saw that coming?

  53. Joe Leydon says:

    Sometimes I wonder if all of us — and yes, I include myself in this — are limited by our own experiences and interactions when it comes to judging the validity of performances and plots in films. Some bloggers (no, David, I’m not necessarily including you in this group) seem especially limited when it comes to dealing with something or someone they’ve never actually met and/or seen in real life. If it’s outside of their circle of direct experience, then somehow it must be wrong or faulty. When I interviewed Robert Duvall recently, he reminded me of something Horton Foote told him years ago: A lot of people in New York have no idea what goes on beyond the South Jersey shore.

  54. amblinman says:

    @Joe, I’ve always had a problem with the argument for/against something when the argument centers around knowing the real thing. The point of movies, art, is to tell a story in such a way so as to make it accessible (popular art, anyway. I assume we’re still talking about Godzilla, Johson, etc). It boils down to an anecdotal argument, which is always “right”. The best films have themes and/or performances that are universal. It’s funny that you bring up Duvall. The Apostle (speaking of a movie that is decidedly *not* meant to be a “big” film) is one of my absolutely favorite films of the last 20 years, and I”m a kid from Brooklyn. His character’s plight, flaws, wants just speak to me because Duvall did a masterful job of telling his story in a way that was accessible to anyone watching. I don’t know those neighborhoods and communities at all but I completely come to understand them throughout the course of the movie. I didn’t need to be raised there to get it.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon