What if #Godzilla starred in a big new movie and he couldn’t find his motivation?

Big on spectacle ... short on substance. Gareth Edwards's 'Godzilla' collapses under the weight of its own misguided expectations.

Big on spectacle … short on substance. Gareth Edwards’s ‘Godzilla’ collapses under the weight of its own misguided expectations.

There’s precious little that will get my ass into a Cineplex seat these days. For me to descend (or, rather, condescend) from my state of mountaintop seclusion and mingle with the Free-Range Rude and their ill-behaved spawn requires some serious reputation and/or calculated titillation on the part of Hollywood. I’d still go unquestioningly to see a Peter Jackson movie with popcorn in hand and a couple of loaded, $15 apiece (“Grade-A Angus Beef!”) hot-dogs already greedily consumed and in the process of gurgling digestion. The name of Steven Spielberg (if he can even get a big-screen picture made these days) will always lure me, sight unseen, to darkened recesses where one might dream of giant interstellar death-machines emerging magically from the screen to annihilate the mouth-breathers behind and in front of me who are busy texting or proffering endless streams of inane babble throughout the duration of the movie. To catch the latest James Cameron flick, I will overlook the grim likelihood of glimpsing and/or smelling morbidly obese people packed like barely sentient sausage-meat in neon spandex, milling about a lobby with all the decorum of insecure elephant seals, barking uncouth syllables to assert their presence beyond a shadow of doubt, in case anyone could possibly miss them. George Lucas lost me years and years ago, and I don’t care how many pounds Carrie Fisher lost to reprise her “Princess Leia” role in the upcoming Disney re-mangling of Star Wars … I ain’t getting within ten miles of that blasphemy.

I can’t think of a single movie star today who would get my money due to their mere presence in a general-release, Summer “tent-pole” picture. Nor at any other time of the year, frankly. Will Smith ceased to be amusing in the mid-1990s. So did Ben Stiller and Jim Carrey. I’d pay good money to slap Matt Damon or Ryan Reynolds or George Clooney, but not to watch them perform. Meryl Streep is overacting in way too many vehicles, these days, so she holds no allure for me. Sandra Bullock? Maybe, if it wasn’t yet another attempt at blatant romantic comedy. Julia Roberts? Never. I’d probably still drop everything if Tim Burton made another film and it received praise from critics whose opinions I respected. Anybody who adapts a Cormac McCarthy novel has my blind allegiance. If someone is playing an art-house film or a gloomy foreign-language feature on a big white bed-sheet pinned to the wall of some back alley, I’ll be the first one in line with a bottle of wine and a folding chair from Walmart, but products derived from mainstream Hollywood and its immediate collaterals? No.

Clearly, I’m an unapologetic film snob with little use for crowds and rampant mediocrity. At the very least, I’m a film snob like millions of other film snobs in the sense that I am game to watch most anything remotely intriguing so long as I can hold the remote … so long as a movie makes its way to Netflix and I can pull a blanket over my toes while the chips & salsa are within easy reach. Hell, even Tom Cruise is welcome in my living-room in that capacity. Barely.

Imagine my excitement, then, when not one, but FIVE of my favorite entertainment personalities of all-time gave me come-hither glances via clever YouTube trailers in director Gareth Edwards’s new blockbuster! How could such a thing be possible? Bryan Cranston, the Luminous Juliette Binoche (Yes, her legal name really is The Luminous Juliette Binoche), David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe and GODZILLA. FIVE GENIUSES!

Well, Godzilla ended-up being an entertaining disappointment. It grieves me to say so. Mind you, this comes from a dude who knows the words to (and can sing!) the entire chant that those twin fairies of Infant Island use to summon Mothra, larvae or pupae. So, there.

The blame for the big flaws in Godzilla rests squarely with Edwards, who was clearly in over his head, and who should (among other things) have secured a truly outstanding scriptwriter for this reboot. Instead, we see a film that is herkily and jerkily straining to imitate motifs and techniques and styles made famous by Steven Spielberg … and showing every ounce of the strain. Edwards and his bunch made no secret about their desire to pay “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” tribute to Spielberg in crafting this epic, but they forgot or else utterly screwed the pooch when it came to remembering Spielberg’s greatest gift: namely, that characterizations do not have to be sacrificed, EVER, at the altar of spectacle. Some critics are muttering comparisons of Godzilla with Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and War of the Worlds, but I simply don’t see it, in terms of quality, beyond some painfully obvious cardboard similarities. This movie had a two-hour running time; it damned well could have offered a better overall product. The story stunk to high heaven. Edwards seems to waffle, from scene to scene, between the sort of gravitas this movie could have (and should have) communicated and some need to plunge perilously along through choppy narrative waters without regard for coherence or humanity.

None of the actors are at fault, not too much. They simply aren’t given much to work with. Bryan Cranston and Juliet Binoche are criminally underused: the lethal rift in the story, wherein Cranston and Binoche relinquish what could have been a powerful trajectory throughout the film, and proceedings are taken over by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is the fateful torpedo-shot that sinks any chance this film might have had for true greatness. And it could have been great, instead of just “better than Emmerich’s lame 1998 Godzilla and not quite as engaging as Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.”

I simply didn’t care about any of the film’s human characters and was unimpressed by any of the performances, aside from Godzilla’s. The script and the plotting were so bad that even Cranston could not rise above the rudimentary pap of his role (much less his distracting hairpiece). Juliette Binoche was marvelous in a part that couldn’t have lasted two minutes, or perhaps four lines, so that doesn’t do anyone any good at all. Ken Watanabe, quite frankly, looked like he was coming off a ten-day sake-bender; pasty and dazed and bereft of significant words. David Strathairn was flat-out miscast because he looked and acted bored to death with his part. Who cold blame him? Aaron Taylor-Johnson doesn’t deserve all the bad notices he’s been getting for his part as Ford Brody –again, the guy was given a crap script smothered in the artery-clogging gravy of a crap narrative. If anyone thinks that it is “not necessary” for the characters to be engaging in a disaster film, or that “no one wants to see a typical Godzilla-movie for the characterizations,” then they’re as lost as the director clearly was. First, I’ll guarantee you that audiences related to the human characters in Jaws and Close Encounters–films that Edwards & Co. were apparently feverish to emulate. It’s not about the amount of lines the human characters get, or the complexity of the story … it’s about the quality. Second, this was not to be a “typical Godzilla-movie.” This was supposed to be a powerful and epic reimagining. Epic? Sure. Powerful? Hell, no.

But the whole thing was reimagined, alright.

Some of the set pieces and shots are quite stunning, but most of them were nothing extraordinary in terms of innovative thinking or creativity. The CGI effects were admittedly satisfying throughout the film. I had no quibble with Godzilla’s late-arrival to the proceedings, nor with Edwards’s coy pull-away shots: the guy was clearly trying to build to a tease, but because his whole damned story stunk from the very beginning, the “big reveal” did not inspire anywhere near the amount wonder and emotion I was expecting based upon the very clever way Warner Bros. assembled those misleading trailers and teasers. I had to manufacture almost all of my excitement and wonder by myself, watching this movie … out of sheer hope. The Godzilla vs. MUTO battle-scenes were superb and the irony of it all is that the most compelling, human presence in the entire film is Godzilla himself.

The Big G evoked empathy as he fought and struggled against the MUTOs. The Big G, when the center of attention, summoned emotion beyond that of mere nostalgia for Godzillian-adventures past. Godzilla himself was wonderful and worth the price of admission, but I was expecting a damned story to accompany this Godzilla, we were all promised one, and the one we got was half-baked, to say the least. I would have eliminated the whole Elizabeth Olsen subplot, gotten rid of Watanabe and Hawkins, and found a way to make Cranston, Binoche, and their adult son (Taylor-Johnson) the three chief human protagonists and monster-hunters throughout the length of the picture. A Japanese kid separated from his parents ’til the end of the movie would have provided a superb “child’s eye view,” as well. Godzilla nearly dies at the end. Mother Binoche dies at the end: you would’ve had a movie people could talk about for years.

But you don’t, Blanche. You don’t.

Edwards admittedly had a lot of weight on his plate, and on his shoulders, here. I get that, and his movie is not exactly a wreck. The need to get Godzilla and the other beasties from the Phillipines, to Japan, to Honolulu, to Las Vegas, and then to San Francisco was straining an already limp story-structure. That damnation for your narrative trajectory from the outset. I feel for Edwards, because he clearly knows how to make a thoughtful movie for not a lot of money. Maybe they shouldn’t have given him so much for this one, but they should have given him a script. That would have been the Easter Egg to end all Easter Eggs in this visually satisfying, reasonably entertaining, but substantially flawed epic. I’ll buy it on Blu-Ray because I am a lifelong Godzilla-fan, but if I weren’t, I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t go back to the theater to see this a second time in the theater, either.

Here’s hoping someone else (or even Edwards himself) can improve the state of affairs within the framework of the inevitable sequel. *** (Three Stars)
__
Jonathan Kieran’s new book (a work of non-fiction) is slated for release in Autumn 2014. Look for news about the release here and at Amazon.com in the coming weeks and months.

Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

Toho Squab w/ The Barefoot Contessa! #FoodNetwork #satire

"Cooking with quail or Cornish game hens for the first time can be intimidating for a lot of people, but it doesn't have to be. The key is to select top-quality birds from your local butcher."

“Cooking with quail or Cornish game hens for the first time can be intimidating for a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to be. The secret is to select top-quality birds from your local butcher.”

"Usually I'll go for local free-range birds, but for this meal I wanted something a little more exotic. Luckily, my butcher had just received a pair of rare squabs caught in the South Pacific. These are real delicacies and he even caged them up for me at the store. Have a look!"

“Usually I settle for local free-range birds, but for this meal I wanted something a little more exotic. Luckily, my butcher had just received a pair of rare squabs caught in the South Pacific. These are real delicacies and he even caged them up for me at the store. Have a look!”

"Please! We're not meant to be eaten! We're fairy princesses from Infant Island. Some nearsighted poacher from Tokyo bagged us by mistake while we were bathing in a coconut. There's been a terrible mix-up. PLEASE set us free!"

“Please! We’re not meant to be eaten! We’re fairy princesses from Infant Island. Some nearsighted poacher from Tokyo bagged us by mistake while we were skinny-dipping in a coconut shell. There’s been a terrible mix-up. PLEASE set us free!”

"As you can tell from the incessant sounds of chirping and whining, this is one of the more irritating species of Asian quail. Don't let that dissuade you from a great recipe because the kitchen will be marvelously quiet once you throttle their little necks or toss them into a pot of boiling water with a happy little dash of Corsican sea-salt."

“As you can tell from the incessant sounds of chirping and whining, this is clearly one of the more irritating species of Asian quail. But don’t let that dissuade you from a great recipe. The kitchen will be marvelously quiet once you snap their little necks or toss them into a pot of boiling water with a dash of Corsican sea-salt!”

"Be warned, O plump but winsomely jolly American bird-eater! If anything should happen to us, the wrath of our mighty island god shall be swift upon your head! Do not threaten our necks, but fear for the one you seek to conceal with the upturned collar of that ridiculous blue smock!"

“Be warned, O plump but winsomely jolly American bird-eater! If anything should happen to us, the wrath of our mighty island god shall be swift upon your head! Do not threaten our necks, but fear for the neck you seek to conceal with the upturned collar of that insipid blue smock!”

"The best part of cooking exotic Asian quail is that you can get a little drunk on plum wine, which is later used to deglaze the pan." [`hiccup`]

Okay, between us girls and gays, the best part of cooking exotic Asian quail is that you can get a little drunk on plum wine, which is later used to deglaze the pan!”[`hiccup`]

"She's too tossed! Our spells won't work on her. Quick--call Mothra before it's too late!"

“She’s too tossed! Our spells won’t work on her. Quick … use our holy incantation to call Mothra before it’s too late!”

"Before you grab your tasty little birds, it's a good idea to prep your favorite side-dish. I serving corn for tonight's guests!"

“Before you throttle or fricassee your tasty little birds alive, it’s a good idea to prep your favorite side-dish. I’m serving organic corn with tonight’s main course!”

"Mosu-RAH, Ya! Mosu-RAH! Come and save us from this tubby indo-moo. Wakka wakka, HUNG! Koko Ping-Pong mahjong. Ramen noodles and dung. Miley Cyrus!"

“Mosu-RAH, Ya! Mosu-RAH! Come and save us from this tubby indo-moo. Wakka wakka HUNG! Koko Ping-Pong mahjong. Ramen noodles and dung. Miley Cyrus!”

"When the time comes to cook, don't be afraid to just reach into that cage and grab your supper!"

“When the time comes to cook, don’t be afraid to just reach into that cage and grab your supper!”

"WAIT! NO! Don't touch us! We haven't finished our song! We've got fleas! We swear! Omigosh, that manicure is hideous!"

“WAIT! NO! Don’t touch us! We haven’t finished our song! We’ve got fleas! We swear! Omigosh, that manicure is hideous!”

"See how easy that was? I didn't feel like hovering over a sauté pan today so I just dunked them, feathers and all, in a deep fryer. In just five minutes flat ..."

“See how easy that was? I didn’t feel like hovering over a sauté pan today so I just dunked them, feathers and all, in a deep fryer. In just five minutes flat …”

"... look at the golden brown goodness you'll be able to enjoy with your significant other. My husband Jeffrey will be so thrilled when I let him out of the cellar to get a whiff of THIS! Oh ... wait ... my phone's ringing ..."

“… look at the crispy, golden brown goodness you’ll be able to enjoy with your significant other. My husband Jeffrey will be so thrilled when I let him out of the cellar to get a whiff of THIS! Oh … wait … my phone’s ringing …”

"Hello? Michael? Is that you?"

“Hello? Michael? Is that you?”

"Hey, everyone, it's my friend Michael! He owns a doll-shop down by the seashore. God, he's such a hunk! I tell ya, if I weren't married ... Anyway, excuse me while I take this call."

“Hey, everyone, it’s my friend Michael! He’s the one who owns a doll-shop down by the seashore. God, he’s such a hunk! I tell ya, if I weren’t married … Anyway, excuse me while I take this call.”

"So what's that you were saying, Michael? Wait ... hold on, honey. I can't hear you. Have you got your sewing machine going? There's what? Giant WHAT? Coming ashore in the Hamptons? Oh, Michael ... what have I told you about drinking while you work with gingham? Look, I gotta go. Dinner's just about ready and I have to unchain Jeffrey. You know how he gets. Lemme call you tomorrow ... and lay off the Chantilly. Have yourself a little Klonopin. Take a nice nap. Okay, honey. Bye bye."

“So what’s that you were saying, Michael? Wait … hold on, honey. I can’t hear you. Have you got your sewing-machine going? There’s what? Giant WHAT? Coming ashore in the Hamptons? Oh, Michael … what have I told you about drinking while you work with gingham? Look, I gotta go. Dinner’s just about ready and I have to go unchain Jeffrey. You know how he gets. Lemme call you tomorrow … and lay off the Chantilly. Have yourself a little Klonopin. Take a nice nap. Okay, honey. Bye bye.”

"I swear, that Michael is such a handful, sometimes. It must be all that untamed testosterone just pent-up and swirly around with nowhere to go in manly, hairy bachelor-body of his. He drinks when he runs-up a new dress pattern and then starts seeing things. Sometimes he cries. The guy needs a woman in his life ... fast. But anyway, I need to plate up these Asian chicks."

“I swear, that Michael is such a handful, sometimes. It must be all the untamed testosterone just pent-up and swirling around with nowhere to go in that manly, hairy bachelor-body of his. I get the shivers just thinking about it. See, he gets to drinking whenever he runs-up a new dress pattern, like most men, and then starts seeing stuff that isn’t there. Giant monsters. You wouldn’t believe the shit. Sometimes he cries. The guy needs a wife in his life … fast. But anyway, I need to plate up these Asian chicks.”

"There. Doesn't that look great? I like to leave their little leg bones in because I find it enhances the flavor, but you can skin & bone yours before frying, if you want. Now, I'll just go get the key to Jeffrey's manacles and then ... HOLY SHIT! ... What the hell is that noise outside. My God, the house is shaking. It sounds like a locomotive coming up the driveway!"

“There. Doesn’t that look great? I like to leave their little leg bones in because I find it enhances the flavor, but you can skin & bone yours before frying, if you want. Now, I’ll just go get the key to Jeffrey’s manacles and then … HOLY SHIT! … What the hell is that noise outside? My God, the whole friggin’ house is shaking. It sounds like a locomotive coming up the driveway!”

"If Michael had some kind of hissy-fit and stole his mother's garden tractor to plow through my roses again, I'll kill him!"

“If Michael threw some kind of hissy-fit and stole his mother’s garden-tractor to plow through my roses again, I’ll kill him!”

"... Well, I better go and see what all the fuss is about, but I'm bringing a turkey-fork just in case. Drunken bachelors can be so mean ..."

“… Well, I better go out on the front porch and see what all the fuss is about, but I’m bringing a turkey-fork just in case. Drunken bachelors can be so mean …”


__

Jonathan Kieran’s new novel is slated for release in Autumn 2014. Look for news about the book here and at Amazon.com in the coming weeks and months.

Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

The King IS Coming to Save the World in 2014. Make No Mistake. #godzilla

From forgotten depths, from places beyond time and imagination, HE is returning in 2014 ...

From forgotten depths, from places beyond time and imagination, HE is returning in 2014 …

... rising above the chaos of a world gone mad to save humanity in its hour of need ... an unlikely hero will emerge in splendor to rid the planet of the most horrifying threat Climate Change has ever inflicted upon our woeful and despairing population ...

… rising above the chaos of a world gone mad to save humanity in its hour of need … an unlikely hero will emerge in splendor to rid the planet of the most horrifying threat that Climate Change has ever inflicted upon our woeful and despairing population …

He will leave no nation unscathed, no city standing ... until the Real Enemy is destroyed.

He will leave no nation unscathed, no city standing … until the Real Enemy is destroyed.

"Today, oh glorious day, I passed a stool in my Cuisinart, cried nine tears while looking at a picture of Newt Gingrich naked and then set the blender on frappe until I had enough Art to daub onto six new wigs! Someone give me my own wing at the Pompidou, already ... La dee dah di dah di dah dah ..."

“Today, oh glorious day, toodly-doo, I passed a stool in my Cuisinart, cried nine tears while looking at a picture of Newt Gingrich naked and then set the blender on frappe until I had enough Art to daub onto six new wigs! Wigs wigs wigs wigs wigs! Someone give me my own gallery at the Pompidou, already … La dee dah di dah di dah dah …”

SHHHHHZZZHHHHHZZAAHHHHHHHAAAAAAHHZZZ-Z-ZAM!

SHHHHHZZZHHHHHZZAAHHHHHHHAAAAAAHHZZZ-Z-ZAM!

( ~sssszzzzizzzzle ....~)

( ~sssszzzzizzzzle ….~)

... and like a desperado, he shall depart into the sunset, leaving us to pick up the pieces of a brighter new world, a decidedly more artful world.

… and like a desperado, he shall depart into the sunset, leaving us to pick up the pieces of a brighter new world, a decidedly more artful world.

"Goodbye, Godzilla! And thank you!"

“Goodbye, Godzilla! And thank you!”


___________

Jonathan Kieran’s (as-yet-untitled) new novel, an epic supernatural thriller, is now finished and slated for release in late Spring 2014. Look for news about the release here and at Amazon.com in the coming weeks and months.

Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world. FREE ON AMAZON KINDLE UNTIL MIDNIGHT, OCTOBER 31!

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads