Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Godzilla": The EMP-monster movie

Godzilla” does seem like a bloated, and somewhat plot-complicated, remake of the classic Japanese creature (“Gojira”, 1954) flick, where an enormous dinosaur topples buildings in a large city and people scurry like mice.  Directed by Gareth Edwards with a new story by Dave Callaham, for Warner Brothers and Legendary, the film builds up the creatures over decades, in castes that seem to resemble social insects.
The film opens with the infamous hydrogen bomb test in 1954, and then quickly moves to 1999, where scientists find the artifacts of a huge creature in a collapsed mine in the Philippines, with possible escape of the young.  Then Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a young Naval officer with a “normal” family in San Francisco, travels to Japan when his dad, also a senior officer, has been arrested for trespassing.  It’s rather complicated, but the government is trying to cover up the creature activities as an earthquake.

The film will then progress to destroy Hawaii (with a tsunami), Las Vegas and San Francisco.  (That’s three cities ruined, rather just one as in “Cloverfield”.)  It seems as though there are eggs (from pods rather like those in the “Alien” movies) that hatch into winged “MUTO’s”, and there is the original Godzilla.  The battle among the creatures and Godzilla becomes the secondary “plot” leading to the final irony of the film. The primary plot is the relationship between father and son, and son and his own family, although it is all rather stereotyped.

There’s an interesting sequence late in the movie where a “glow train” is carrying the nuclear parts to San Francisco and is attacked by the creatures, at night.  It rather looks like something on a model railroad.
But the most important “point” in the script may be the treatment of electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which the creatures (the MUTO’s feed on radioactive waste, which triggers an attack on Yucca Mountain)  emanate.  Electricity is knocked out on Navy ships and in cities at various points before there is other physical destruction.  Sometimes the electricity comes back on, which would not happen after real EMP damage.  But local non-nuclear EMP weapons exist;  the US Army uses them in deployment (as in Iraq and Afghanistan).  That point is covered particularly on my Books blog in Maloof’s work (April 13, 2014).  In the past, I probably would have covered this movie on my “Films on major threats to freedom” (or “cf”) blog, but I’m not using that now for commercial theatrical films.  

The script says that the MUTO's had bred deeper underground, near sources of radiation.  This reminds one of the premise of the NBC series "Surface" a few years ago.
I also recall a similar film in the 50s, "The Giant Behemoth". 

The official site is here.

The music score is by Andre Desplat, and provides a crunching “noir” fast-paced exposition for the opening credits, and then a full concert tone poem for the closing credits.  I would have preferred that the very end remain fortissimo rather than dying suddenly, but the piece seems well constructed. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Yucca Mountain entrance.  I was near this location in May 2012.  
I saw this in a small auditorium at Regal Ballston, although the 3-D presentation and sound were effective.  But “go big or go home” doesn’t seem to apply when Regal uses a small screen.  

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