Movie Reviews: Godzilla® vs. Amazing Spider-Man® 2

So this weekend was a holiday here in Canada, it was the May 2-4 weekend, also known as Victoria Day for those of us who follow the royals.

I promise you that there is a review buried in here, but first off, I have something else to say, which has a lot to do with my reviews of the two films in general.

I think the main reason people get off on the wrong foot with movies these days, is that they fail to temper their expectations about what they are, or are not going to see in a 2 hour movie. I had the ability to sift through reams of reviews on both movies, and I had a reasonable idea of what I was and was not going to get to see or feel from either film. There are still people out there in the wider world who expect to see a panel to scene play by play from their favourite comic book or story. They are two totally different mediums and in most instances the same material doesn’t hold up when transplanted from one to the other.

We all have fan-boy/ fan-girl dreams of what we are going to see, but what us outsiders seem to fail to know, is that, these projects aren’t created by individuals with all of the creative control. You start throwing around $150 – $200 million dollars in production costs alone, not even mentioning the costs of advertising in print and television, and you are going to have to design by committee (which usually ends up meaning a diluted, chopped story, with shoe horned elements to sell merchandise and tie-ins/ cross overs etc etc…). These two movies were no exception. If you understand that going in, then you will thoroughly enjoy these films for what they are, fiction / sci-fi / fantasy movies that are big on spectacle and have little to no character arc. The characters (i.e.) villains in Spider-Man® are as cartoonish and 2 dimensional as you could expect. The only time you feel you’re watching actual fleshed out humans, are when Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are schmoozing on camera together (not a bad thing, basically the best parts of that particular movie, and very touching at that!).  The cgi is pretty good, some spots with Rhino looked rushed and less than stellar, but if it’s a set up for a Sinister Six® spin off, then perhaps they’ll upgrade the visuals for Paul Giamatti’s character then. He really was just a throw away character in the film, but in it’s defence it was a fun way to book end the action sequences of the film as a whole, and let’s you know Spider-Man® isn’t going anywhere, he’s right in the thick of battle, so expect more to come. Great!. If you are looking for a comic book feel, this movie has it, cheesy one liners, 2 dimensional bad guys, lots of great action, slow motion action sequences, tracking shots that take you straight through the heart of the action, web slinging and damsels in distress, funny costumes and a daily life that just seems to get in the way. Fun, all of that is fun. Not great, not earth shattering, just fun. Good clean PG-13 fun. No oscars will be awarded for the story or plot, but if you are going to see a Comic book film, other than say, Sandman® or something equally cerebral looking for Casablanca or something of that ilk, then you have a perverse sense of this pop cultures worth.

So to continue my wife and I ventured out to see Spider-Man® on Saturday evening, that was a lot of fun, because I had been able to do something, that other’s didn’t do. I managed my expectations. Expectations are what are standing between you really enjoying something for what it is, Vs. You hating something because it didn’t pan out like you had envisioned in your head. Shake off your expectations. Cast them aside! I say. Do yourself a favour, and don’t go sifting through every single trailer, every single on set snap shot, worry yourself over news about production. Take a hit then pass that bad boy onwards. All you are doing is building up the hype, and setting unrealistic expectations that in most cases, but not all, you’ll never be able to meet. Which leads to much ranting and raving and gnashing of teeth on-line.

However in the case of Spider-Man® I did feel a bit left out in the rain, because the plot points shown in the trailer are no where to be seen in the actual film, which is a textbook case of bait-n’ switch. I felt duped. Well, no not really. Like I mentioned before, I had read and watched several reviews which relate this point in better details than I have. But still, Peter & Harry’s relationship looked a bloody sight more interesting in the trailers, when you think there is a conspiracy going on behind the scenes.

On to Sunday evening we go, now it was time to take on Godzilla®. The large, city stomping, family killing, infrastructure busting behemoth from under the ocean. Next to the hulking monsters ruining city scapes and causing natural disasters along the way, this movie was far more touching and grounded than the 1998 version, which was odd to watch when I was 18, as it didn’t quite hit the mark. This new version has all the hallmarks of the original, building up suspense, unease, trauma, anger, capturing the effortless way in which nature makes us feel weak and ineffectual. Showing us just how uncontrollable the world really is, even when we strive to make every inch of our lives as managed as we are able. It just isn’t so. And the new Godzilla® shows us this in a way that was pleasing. Mind you, I could have done with Aaron Taylor-Johnson being a tad more emotive on screen, but you know what, his vanilla blandness actually makes it easier to transpose yourself into his position. If he had of shrieked and wailed the whole time, we’d have been put off by his hamming it up. He really is just a proxy by which we experience Godzilla®, and a softened generic avatar makes that easier to do. To all the haters who wished for 2 + hours of Godzilla® smash, that gets tedious and boring. I mean Pacific Rim did a good job of giving us nothing much other than battles, and it gets old very quickly. Case in point, how many ways can you lose a beast behind a building, or get punched through it before you get numb to the idea or the spectacle. Just look at Man of Steel, the last 30 minutes felt redundant and overly repetitive.

I’d give them both a solid B grade. Well worth the price of a 3D ticket.

Your thoughts, and or comments?