A Couch Potato’s Review of Godzilla (2014)
I know that it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and written a review on anything, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been watching the good, the bad, the ugly, the awful and the truly toxic Hollywood (and various independent productions) have to offer. No, it just meant that I haven’t had the want, the desire, the panache or the gumption to critique them publicly. There’s been a couple of movies and even a book that I tore into in my journal, I decided as a sort of “return” I was going to sit and give a go with the American Re-Remake of a B-Movie Japanese Cult classic. While I might not go into the blow-by-blow details of the movie as I used to, there will be some spoilers based on the scenes that I had issues with.
The long and the short of it is that American Directors and Producers just don’t quite get it. They came close in this movie – certainly infinitely closer than the abortion of a Roland Emmerich film at the turn of the century. The problem is that there’s too much cultural differences between Japan and America that makes it near to impossible for Americans to truly get it. That and of course, Americans suffer a really bad problem with what I like to call the “wouldn’t it be cool, if…” Syndrome in trying to one up everything that they want to touch. This movie is of course no exception to that syndrome as this movie tried to also pile in way too healthy heapings of American Heroism (otherwise known as Individual Heroism), a Love story, and the usual hippy like fervor against all things military.
So I’ll admit that I didn’t actually buy this DVD. I decided on taking advantage of The Pirate Bay with the exclusive intent that if this movie was good enough, I’d actually spend the money on getting it from my local Wal*Mart or cheapskate store that sells them when they reach bargain bin. The first thing I noticed of course – besides the glowing praise of a good DVD rip – as the anger (and disgust) form leechers from around the world that Americans were once again trying their hand at a Japanese Monster Movie once again. One of the most comical comments I read was the one that said, “Bryan Cranston’s in it, and any movie that has Bryan Cranston in it can’t be bad…” The response to that was, “[Cranston] dies within 15 minutes of the film, and after that it blows chunks…”
I chuckled at it while I picked up the magnet for it and while watching it, realized it wasn’t entirely true. Cranston’s character was pronounced dead at 42 minutes into it.
Sure there were some names in this film after Cranston dies – the scientist played by Ken Watanabe, the Navy Admiral played by David Strathairn – but on the whole, it was a film of mostly unknown and untried actors. So far, that’s about right given that Sony (then Toho) Studios but I think the true reason was because anyone that remembers the names that worked in the Emmerich Abomination™ (Reno, Savant and Broderick) would run away from the thought of doing a remake for the sake of their careers and unborn children. Or as an agent would tell the actor they represent, “Take my advice and if anyone asks why you didn’t audition for the role, tell them… you weren’t available…”
Unlike the Emmerich Abomination™, it was decided to have two different monsters in this film: Godzilla and a male (and female) MUTO (Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organism). Americans missed the mark here, but this is because of a cultural difference more than anything else. The Japanese love giving everything a label or a name that stands out. Mothra, Gyaos, Gamera, Hedora and on and on and on. Americans love their acronyms. So instead of giving it a name – usually done by the scientist – they gave it an acronym clearly indicating that they’re not going to last.
One of the points American Producers and Director seem to have finally clued into was that Godzilla wasn’t actually the villain. Barring the original 1954 release that was more a warning of the hubris of man that caused a creature to make the potential extinction of mankind – like they did in the Emmerich Abortion™ – Godzilla was there mucking up the US Navy and San Francisco to get at the MUTO to “restore balance” to the planet. While this message was more than a bit heavy-handed – something only Americans seem to love to do – at least the scale, fire-breathing monster didn’t go all hating on the silly Homosapiens that often were in its path.
Another thing that seemed to have been missed is how the scientist was pretty much ignored by the military. While it’s not entirely surprising given that a majority of Hollywood’s producers, directors and productions houses absolutely abhor the military (by making them appear as tank-brained, war mongers) at least it seemed that the military was out for the common good of the people. While this might come close to what I remember of the military in the tons of monster movies I’ve been watching since I was a child, it still gets a mark against it as Americans don’t seem to entirely understand how the military still deferred to the scientists that had been studying the monster(s). Then again this is definitely a cultural difference that doesn’t translate well to American Individualism.
I find myself torn on the level of panic and the amount of focus TPTB had on the “little people” in this film. What I mean is the hero’s medical wife, his son and the people that were being evacuated from the epicenter of monster destruction. This also includes the Golden Gate Bridge and Levi’s Stadium (or was it supposed to be AT&T Park? I don’t know and frankly I didn’t care to stick around to check it in the credits) where the survivors collected in the aftermath. While I understand the importance of showing panicking humans when it comes to a rampaging set of monsters destroying the town you’re living in, there seemed to have way too much focus on the twanging of the good old heart-strings of family reunions. While it has always existed in the monster movies I’ve watched, at the same time it seemed too focus on the individualism of the panicked instead of simply using them to show the orderly evacuation of the affected people from the epicenter.
And finally, the TPTB missed the “magic” of Godzilla. While they did a good job trying to show how unstoppable Godzilla was, they seemed to have spent too much time trying to establish the reality of an atomic mutated, unstoppable, fire-breathing monster from the prehistoric past, they missed the point that Godzilla was never really… well, real. Making him real was too surreal. And in doing that it ruined any magic we might have remembered of Godzilla from our childhood.
Bottom Line: While my vitriol went down as the movie progressed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that while this was a better attempt at an Americanized version of the Japanese icon, Americans still aren’t quite getting it because of a combination of cultural differences and what I’ve seen of my generation trying to make what they grew up with… well grow up with them. They miss the biggest point in that some things don’t need to be matured: and this was one of them. It’s worth a one-watch, but “owning” it? No, it’s really not worth it.
Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched
This was just one of these type of pieces that no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get the color gradients that I wanted. And I wanted something between subtle and vibrant. Fortunately for it, I decided on taking a look at it fullscreen and realized that there was just the right sort of subtlety to save it from being deleted.
Cheesy inspirational music was involved during it’s creation: Erasure – Chains of Love.
Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched
Originally going to be called: Jetsam, it reminded me more of what happens when Legos explode out of their container. (yes, I’m that graceful)
No matter the perspective or the tour through the 3D Preview Window, this one’s a hot mess of bits and pieces everywhere.
Inspired by Project DMM – Radiance
Entry 8/21/2014 7:16:53 PM – Mentat 707
This is just a quick note to inform subscribers and casual readers that I’m still alive and doing remarkably well in the world (all things considered), but in the time that I’ve been assisting my mother around the house since she broke her ankle because of the dog (as talked about in Entry 706) for the last month or so. I’ve been writing a lot of journal entries and finding myself more at ease about writing and keeping them to myself than I have the last couple of years in writing them that went out to the world.
I realize that this might be what I need to do for a bit longer. Get used to writing for the audience of me until I’m ready to start sharing them with the world again. Truth be told I’ve been going through quite a lot of “performance anxiety” in writing journal entries that I share with the world and because of this I feel like I’ve lost the vision and mission of posting my journal publicly. A feeling I don’t remotely like. At all…
So while I’m helping my mother hobble around the house with the sweeping and cleaning up after her monster child (which seems to shed a Chihuahua every day) along with other chores that she can’t do, I’m going to be offline for a bit. I’ll still be posting some of my Mad Scientist fractals, but those will even be infrequent (well more infrequent than they have been recently).
Keep safe… Keep clean and use soap… (Heh as I’ve said to my mother a couple of times when she’s announced taking a sponge bath). You can contact me through the usual channels (Comments, E-Mail, Deviant Art), you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ if you really want to pester me, and I’ll be around in the background like a Vorlon on a mission to study the younger races.
Hopefully I’ll be back sometime in the near future. Until then…
Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Amusingly I forgot how much fun (not to mention easy) it is working with the program when I’m in one of my speed rendering moments.
And no, I wasn’t listening to Missing Persons’ “Mental Hopscotch” when I named this piece. I only thought of the song after naming it.
Entry 07/25/2014 01:02:38 PM – Mentat 706
As the month is coming to a close, and the laziness of summer is still upon me I’ve got to say that what we’ve gotten for the summer so far has felt quite atypical to me. While it’s had its typical moments of heat and humidity; there have been quite a few days like today: the free of humidity sort of days after a storm front has cut through the Tundras of New England. This is the sort of thing that I got rather used to living in the Crotch of the Bible Belt (Atlanta, GA) and during the winter. The difference though is that the amount of humidity during the summer feels infinitely more oppressive than getting it in the winter.
So there’s a couple of things to cover from the last time I sat down and wrote a journal entry. Sure, I didn’t write or even create all that much in the last couple of weeks; mostly because the temperatures has been swinging like a pendulum between beautiful and absolutely fucking miserable. Sure I have air conditioning and while it’s not the sort of necessary BTU’s to keeping the whole of the house cool (and dry), closing certain doors (and curtains) keep the vital rooms at least comfortable to sit in for the duration of the day until the sun goes down and everything outside is cooling off appropriately.
Fun thing about that was that I learned where the threshold for the fuses for the house are. Didn’t experience it the first couple of times I experimented, nothing really annoying occurred — and so I thought that the electrical balance for the household was better than my mother’s. Then when I was warming leftovers in the microwave and sitting at the desk waiting patiently for it to finish while the fans were running and the AC was quietly pushing cooler air into the kitchen, everything in the house shut down or went blank. A quick rush to the basement and fighting the eroding stairs and busy cobweb spiders, I was able to reset the power without my UPS trying to turn off my computer after an allotted amount of time (to conserve battery power). So like my mother, I need to shut off the AC if I’m going to use the microwave to warm up my food or else everything will shut down.
Then there was the beginning of the week where at 3:30 PM, it was time to go for a walk with my mother and her monster child Jack. My mother’s been walking the dog more the last couple of weeks to get her out of the house for some exercise and to get her used to walking the dog when I’m not around. Normally I’m just there for moral support and to teach my mother the commands the dog’s gotten used to (I don’t use heel or stay, as I use Stop and Go instead). Also to teach her how to handle the dog when he decides on going ape-shit (and more importantly how to avoid the potential). Of course, it doesn’t help matters any as the last month of so, Jack’s been getting more hyper and spastic about the potential of seeing dogs (or more importantly anything larger than an English Sparrow that he could bark at and/or chase) during the 3:30 PM walk.
My mother, Jack and I were in the parking lot on Adams Street on the way to the field off of Marcello and Atwells, when I was dawdling between Adams St and my apartment as I was indecisive about going back to the apartment about a piece of mail I was expecting and catching up with the two of them heading toward the field. Deciding against going back to the apartment, I was a bit behind my mother trying to get nearer to her and the dog when Jack saw another dog and its owner in the field and went completely ape-shit.
Needless to say that my mother wasn’t prepared for him going insane and bee-lining at the dog in the field and while she was braced, Jack pulled her off her feet and proceeded to drag her down the remainder of Adams Street and onto Marcello before I was able to get hold of him by the harness and get him to calm down a bit.
The poor man that was walking his dog in the field looked completely mortified at the fiasco, apologized and tried to get himself and his dog as far away from my mother sprawled on the road as he possibly could.
Jack only calmed down enough to get him back to the house after a couple of swats to the nose, and I only did so at my mother’s request. Though getting back to her after putting the dog at the house did I realize her ankle wasn’t the way it’s supposed to. We both had hoped it was a sprain, but given the shape of the ankle along with the connecting bones — my mother was more sure it was completely broken.
She was also scraped up along her right hand and arm and a bit of her shoulder from the pull down and drag across the asphalt. The thing about my mother (and her mother — my grandmother (RIP)) is the way that if they’ve had an accident in the street, they stay put and not move… In spite of the fact that they’re in the way of any incoming traffic. If I didn’t know any better she did it expecting the police to suddenly show up and witness it as a crime scene or something.
Hell, I tried to convince her when she was insistent I head back to her place and pick up some band aids, towels and antiseptic to move her ass to the sidewalk and out of the road while I’m getting the stuff… But of course she won’t have anything of it. She stayed where she was and waited for me to get back.
A few minutes passed between my going back to her place to pick up what she requested, and getting back to her while she was checking the cuts and scrapes she got from being dragged across the road. A few minutes after that it and after the call to her husband telling him he’ll need to find alternative transportation as she was unable to drive because of her right foot being broken and needing to go to the emergency room.
Then came the final part of the ordeal — supporting her while we hopped and hobbled our way from the corner of Marcello and Adams street to the car in the driveway. Sure, it’s less than 170 feet (51’ish meters) but when you’re trying to support someone that’s stubborn about help and tiring rather easily – it might as well have been a mile.
Fortunately for us, one of our neighbors was on his way to the garage so that he could take his motorbike for a spin and he was gracious enough to help us get her to the car so that she could sit there waiting for her husband get back to the house so they can scoot off to the Emergency Room of the nearby hospital (Roger Williams Hospital).
The final verdict after almost 4 hours at the ER: She had fractured her ankle, completely removing the tibia and fibula from her anklebone. After seeing the orthopedic doctor about it yesterday — it looks like they’re going to need to do an ankle reconstruction involving pins and a plate which is going to be performed this Monday.
My aunt on the other hand, hasn’t exactly been the model of compassion through all of this, as my mother’s pulled me off my aunt’s request for me to head up to the trailer park of the state (Woonsocket) to set up her e-mail so that she can read it in off-line mode. Stories there on that, but I’ll save that for another time. This of course will open up the same old BS with her when I do eventually go up there that will start with such things as, “When uncle…” (her brother) “…calls, you drop everything to help him. But you don’t do the same for me.”
What she always seems to forget is that Uncle calls and schedules something a week (or longer in advance). He always sets which date it’s going to be. None of this, “is this day good… is that day good…” never makes noise about picking me up at my apartment in Providence to bring me to his place out in BFE in Foster/Gloucester (and yes, that’s pronounced GLAW-stah). He basically understands the three-day rule because he lives by it as well. Nothing’s ever sudden or off schedule and if it is, it’s pushed farther ahead.
My aunt doesn’t though. Not in the least. Everything must be dropped immediately and if the schedule can’t be done when she needs, well… manners fly out the window.
My mother talked with her this afternoon on her way back from the CAT Scan and my aunt completely forgot (read: ignored) her pissy attitude from the day before.
[Last Edited: 7/26/2014 4:39:53 PM]
Finally comes the last part of what I’ve been doing during my down-time/lazy days of summer here in the Tundras of New England. I’m not entirely sure how I want to label it; but it’s been partially educational — and I have gotten quite a lot of entertainment from it. Partially it’s been an obsession with me trying to understand (and unravel it). Partially because of the fascination of how such things attract so many people (usually youngins) to watch, subscribe and comment.
What I’m talking about are Youtubers.
Truth be told, I can’t exactly remember how I stumbled across the ones that I did… Part of it I think had to do with how YouTube gave me random recommended when I was sitting at my computer and looking for something to watch without committing to watching something for hours. The rest of it had to do with my ending up in bed at the end of a day, and popping YouTube onto my iPod Touch and watching a bit of something as I either fell asleep – or worse – the random bouts of insomnia I’d get from suddenly waking up at 2 in the morning and not falling back to sleep until almost 4 AM.
Almost two weeks into this momentary obsession (and just the other day), I talked to Glenn (yes, my favourite attention whore and friend) about the discoveries I had made…. And of course being the sort of curmudgeon-in-training that he often is — went off on his usual tear of how fake and pretentious the lot of them are, using the usual disgust and sneer that he has for anyone (and anything) that caters to the 14 year-old girl mentality that he hates dealing with so much in daMN chat and on Tumblr, I personally gibe him relentlessly on it because of how he hates the competition for Queen Attention Whore™ that he gets from 14 year old girls. Well that and he’s so much like a 14 year old girl sometimes. But I’ll digress from my usual argumentative banter with him as this paragraph is sure to cause him to respond later on.
Then again the discussion Glenn and I had about Google/YouTube’s secret algorithm as I linked earlier is probably the culprit between why I ended up with the recommendations I get versus the recommendations he gets. I had been a bit more blunt about it, snarking the ever living shit out of him stating his love of crap videos and checking out the kind of garbage that 14 year old girls squee on is why he ends up with the pretentious, oftentimes fake and extremely controversial YouTubers he gets to watch. I thought about mentioning names as examples, but I won’t.. It’s about tastes and opinions and unfortunately for Glenn sometimes, he gets it in his head to chase after the things girls squee over so he can snark them, deride them and sneer because of his superiority instead of finding the sort of people and channels that would help with a more positive opinion.
While I only subscribe to 2, I find myself watching quite a few more for various reasons. Following is that list of YouTubers I watch regularly and/or subscribe to:
- Oli White. The first YouTuber I officially subscribed to (though not the first that I watched). Something about his nose and jaw line reminds me a lot of Callum. While Mr. White’s not as tall as Callum (a few inches shorter), there’s also something about his perfectionistic approach that I can strongly relate to. I honestly think it’s going to be interesting to witness when Mr. White reaches the culmination of life experiences that will either change his views to being more of a perfectionist or less. I strongly believe less of a perfectionist than more, but in any case it’ll be intriguing to watch.
- Tyler Oakley. The amount of energy this man can produce is staggering. While he describes himself as Ellen DeGeneres’ doppelganger; with the glasses that he wears, Mr. Oakley reminds me more of a young Peter Billinglsey from “A Christmas Story” (Ralphie). With the amount of energy that he has and the way he can remain so exuberant in front of and behind the camera he reminds me a lot of my adopted son Keagan. The guild I was part of on Rift (I still am, but not playing that game as much because of the summer and the amount of heat that game generates with my PC) would label him “Out the Window Gay”. Sure they mean it in a good way and have referred to me the same way once or twice; but I’m not quite out the window as they think I am. And certainly not as much as Mr. Oakley can be. Combine this with his enthusiasm that I find watching his channel the most infectious.
- Marcus Butler. Admittedly I first thought he was Australian until I started watching him more and realized he was a ‘southerner’ (Bristol, UK area). It was thanks to my experience with watching/chatting with Londoners, Cornish, Midlands, Geordies and the Welsh that hearing Mr. Butler talking that I finally got a handle on the various accents of the UK. I’m not exactly sure what it is about Mr. Butler that I keep watching him. Something about his personality or the qualities that he projects that reminds me of someone (or something), but I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s enough for me to maintain curiosity until I figure out what and why.
- Joe Sugg. And indirectly with his sister, Zoe. There’s something about Mr. Sugg’s snarkish attitude that I find amusing. Even hilarious at some points. It’s also comical the sort of competitiveness that Mr. Sugg has with his sister. That and Mr. Sugg’s use of some (British) slang is enough to keep me on my toes. Oh and he’s an easy mark for practical jokes. There’s something about the straight man that I find enduring.
- Doug Armstrong. The second YouTuber I subscribed to, mainly because of some of his extremely easy, no-nonsense cooking he does on his channel. Well that and his absolute love of cheesecake and deserts.. And anyone that loves cheesecake at his level can’t be at all bad.
- Louis Cole. Pronounced (Loo-EE as opposed to the typical American Lew-ISS). Quite possibly the only YouTuber that took me quite a lot of his videos and a long time for me to warm up to. And I believe he might actually be the third that I subscribe to watch regularly. He reminds me strongly of the hippies my parents used to hang around with when I was a child coupled with the Radical Faeries I used to hang around with when I lived in Atlanta, GA. I think I was sort of put off with his “relaxed” attitude but realized that this was only a veneer to a very subtle easy-going’ish come adventurous approach that he actually has to everything. That and his love of coffee. Instant respect right there.
There’s so many others, I could mention I watch, but instead I’ll just give honorable mentions. MarkE Miller (who is the first YouTuber that I actually watched) along with his boyfriend Ethan Hethcote, Connor Franta (though there’s something about his Wisconsin/Minnesota attitude that puts me off. Well other than watching this video which has me cackling with sadistic glee), Good Mythical Morning, Alfie Deyes/PointlessBlog, Troye Sivan (and yes, he has an Australian Accent), Caspar Lee, Sawyer Hartman (although I find it camp when he and Tyler Oakley have their drinking contests), Joey Graceffa (from the Tundras of New England, even though he has a habit of hiding the Yankee accent when he’s in front of the camera) and finally Will Shepherd
Thinking about it as I was proofing this part of the entry, it’s like the old Public Access video channels on local cable television back in the day when I was used to watch it living here in Providence with Darin (early 90s). To answer the question I have in my head and knowing a couple of my friends would ask — would I do it? Would I put my memories to video? Nope. It won’t ever happen. I like my old-fashioned method of writing. I’ve been writing a journal since I was 17. I don’t see any reason whatsoever to change on this either. When I can’t type because of arthritis, I might consider it. Until then I will remain in print.
That’s about it for the time being. Off to make supper and perhaps to blow up things before I pass out with Moe. Until the next time.