Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In reviewing Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, I summed up my not-really-a-conclusion thus: “If the next two films are great, this will hopefully seem like an elegant piece of scene-setting. If they’re lousy, this will seem like a huge missed opportunity that wasted too much time getting to the good stuff”. As it turns out, I had that all wrong. Now that I’ve finally found an excuse to catch up […]

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a peculiar thing: it’s a sequel for people who didn’t like the original movie. Myself, I still think the 2014 Godzilla is a hell of a picture, capturing a sense of genuine non-humanity in its scale and scope: it’s a movie about things so big that there’s simply no way to fit them into a human-oriented world. Which I think is why it has […]

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters might very well represent the largest shift in the Godzilla formula since 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, and not just because Planet of the Monsters is the first animated Godzilla feature (there have been multiple animated Godzilla TV series produced in both Japan and the United States).* Though it’s unlikely that the film could have afforded to explore this new world if it wasn’t animated, […]

Over the 62 years of its existence, Godzilla has been anything and everything: metaphor for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dangerous animal, force of nature, warrior for the environment, psychic hangover from of WWII, friend to all children, giant hermaphroditic iguana. There’s no such thing, really as a “normal” Godzilla or a normal Godzilla picture, and that’s just the way it should be. Even so, I was not prepared for whatever the […]

Of all possible outcomes for the new American-made Godzilla, one that I wasn’t prepared for at all was that, at the macro level, it would have exactly the same structural problems that the last Godzilla film, 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars did. To wit: in a movie just a smidigen north of two hours, the best stuff tends to bunch up in the back half, and the whole thing would be […]

There are films about which we say, “people have mixed reactions”, because there are things that are generally liked and things that are generally disliked, and it’s hard to feel much more than a profound ambivalence about it when taken as a whole. And then there are films about which we say, “people have mixed reactions”, because of the gaping gulf between the people who love it and the people […]

If there is one unanswerable criticism of Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., it’s that the film is entirely shallow. Not, après it’s immediate predecessor Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, that it ends up a trivial pile of nonsense and fluff whose attempt at any kind of humane drama goes massively awry; that it never makes even the pretense of trying to show any humane drama in the first place. Perhaps intellectual consistency demands that […]

I might scour my vocabulary for hours and still never come up with a better single adjective to describe Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla than “frivolous”. Which is on the one hand not a word that really suggests and kind of special sin or even a legitimate failing of any sort, but on the other is almost entirely devoid of any positive connotations in any context. At any rate, one would generally […]

Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Far and away the wordiest, clumsiest English-language title of any Godzilla movie – any Toho daikaiju eiga at all, for that matter. But simply a direct translation of the Japanese, and if you look at some of the original names for the classic movies in the franchise, they’re no less bogged down in syllables that look more and more fake the longer […]

We now arrive at an exciting moment, for me personally: starting with 2000’s Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, the series wraps up with a run of five movies which I’ve never seen and about which I know basically nothing. In the most extreme cases (Megaguirus is one of these), my knowledge extends literally only to having seen still images of the Godzilla suit. Comparatively, I’d seen more than half of the 24 […]

It’s wonderful what desperate humiliation will do. 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was announced and sold, with great purposefulness and gravity, as the final Toho-made Godzilla film until the character’s 50th anniversary in 2004, while the Japanese company would silently remain on the sidelines as Tri-Star over in Hollywood made its own trilogy of movies with their reinterpreted version of the character. When the 1998 Godzilla came out and fizzled, it […]

The foremost of all the non-pressing questions I have regarding the 1998 American Godzilla – pro tip: there is no such thing as a pressing question about the 1998 Godzilla – is whether or not it’s the worst film of the Godzilla franchise. And I suppose I should really first ask the question if it’s part of the Godzilla franchise at all, since that seems to generally be something that […]