My Thoughts On… Godzilla

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free!

Synopsis

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

What I Liked

  • I’ve never seen as much as a minute of a Godzilla film before, neither the original Japanese films, nor the 1998 American film. As such, I don’t really know what it was that made me want to see the latest offering, but after hearing some good reviews, and knowing that it was directed by Gareth Edwards (without having seen Monsters at this point), I took myself along. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the opening sequence that ran behind the credits. At first it just seemed as though it was regular archive news footage, but then it became clear that it was doctored to include Godzilla, and gave the impression that all the time that we thought nuclear tests were being carried out, it was actually the monster emerging and feeding.
  • From most of the reviews and opinions that I have read about the film, it seems as though the major complaint is that there is an awful lot of time before you get to the monster. That’s true, to a certain extent, there’s certainly only glimpses for a good hour of the film, but I really liked it. It gave us time to get to know the characters, and character development is really important to me, even in a summer action blockbuster. Besides, I think the idea that we don’t get to see enough Godzilla is a bit over-egged. I think we get to see plenty of him, and the MUTOs, and the climactic battle is about as long as it needs to be.
  • I like Bryan Cranston, and I am perfectly happy watching Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but my favourite actor in Godzilla was Ken Watanabe. He’s one of those actors that I don’t think about an awful lot, because he’s not in that many films that I watch, but when I do see him, I remember how much I like him. He’s just great here as Dr Serizawa, bringing the conscience that the film needs in the face of so many American soldiers. He seems to be genuinely worried about Godzilla, and he’s the one that understands how Godzilla can be helpful, rather than just destructive. It helps that he’s pretty easy on the eyes, as well.
  • As I said, I hadn’t seen Monsters at this point, though I have heard Gareth Edwards speak on more than one occasion, and he seems like a very nice man (I’m pretty excited that he’s set to direct a Star Wars spin-off). Having since seen Monsters, and obviously having watched Godzilla, I can see what a talented director he is. He has a great eye for detail, and he constantly brings the viewer into the film through a great use of perspective. The monsters themselves are given a fantastic sense of scale, and while the film may seem to rely on coincidence from time to time, when you get shots like the stunning one of the soldiers freefalling out of the plane into the city, it really doesn’t matter all that much.

 

What I Didn’t Like

  • There are three main female characters in Godzilla: Juliet Binoche plays Sandra Brody, a worker at the nuclear power station in Japan at the start of the film, Elizabeth Olsen is the wife of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character, and Sally Hawkins plays Dr Vivienne Graham, who works with Ken Watanabe’s Dr Serizawa. None of them are given an awful lot to do, but Dr Graham has potential at the start of the film. She’s obviously an accomplished scientist who is integral to the work that Dr Serizawa does, but she just kind of disappears halfway through the film. Of course, the action sequences completely take over, and none of the characters except for Ford are really at the forefront, but I missed Sally Hawkins, because I like her.
  • Talking of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character, Ford Brody is a terrible name. It’s like someone went “I need an all-American sounding name now – GO!” and someone just shouted “Um, Ford Brody!” Seriously, it’s terrible.

 

Why Should I See This Film?

The best way to see this film is at the cinema, there’s no doubt about that. If you haven’t seen it, and it’s still lurking around on a screen near you, I’d hotfoot it to the cinema to catch it while you can. It’s a great action film, with characters you are actually encouraged to care about. I’ve never seen any Godzilla films before, but I’m lead to believe that this one has been made with deference to the old Japanese ones, and that fans are more than happy with this new addition to the franchise. Plus Ken Watanabe is just amazing (and really attractive).

My Thoughts On… Frances Ha

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free!

Synopsis

A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles. (via IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Before I even watched this, I knew that I would like it. It’s just my sort of film, which is not very helpful in terms of explaining what I like about it. It’s probably something to do with it being an independent film, which is not to say that I am one of those people who eschews studio blockbusters, because I love them as much as the next person. But there’s usually something a lot more charming and real about an independent film, and I can usually find that to love about them, even if I don’t like the story or the direction or the characters.
  • It feels totally and utterly real. It’s somewhere between a mumblecore film and an improvised film; sometimes I can’t quite get on board with an improvised film, because they almost feel more contrived than a scripted story (that’s probably just me; it’s something to do with the way they choose to deliver the lines), but Frances Ha feels real despite the script. Some of the dialogue at the start felt a bit too quirky, but as the film went on, I became completely and utterly immersed in the lives of these characters.
  • Frances Ha is one of those films where not an awful lot happens. It’s a series of vignettes, and it’s much more about the characters, and an exploration of themes, than about a strong plot. Frances is 27, and although technically she is an adult, she doesn’t seem to have transitioned particularly from the kind of grown up you are when you are at university, or when you take your first tentative steps into the big wide world. Given the choice, she’d stay cocooned in her own little world with her best friend. They are the same person with different hair, and this suits Frances fine, but Sophie wants to grow up and move on. I totally sympathised with Frances; even at 31 I still feel stuck between two worlds, and it often feels as though everyone else has moved on and grown up, and I’m left here wondering what happened. Sophie’s leaving propels Frances’ life in a direction that she isn’t keen on and doesn’t really want, and the film follows her as she struggles to get her life on track and grow up properly. This is a coming of age movie, despite the fact the main character is not a teenager, she’s a young woman.
  • Greta Gerwig was perfect as Frances. It probably helps that she co-wrote the film, but she brings so much to the screen. She’s funny and poignant at the same time; I laughed a lot at her running through the streets and falling over, but I felt desperately sad for her at times. She’s tall and almost awkward at times, yet she’s also incredibly graceful. I loved her.
  • I loved the end, with the nod to the title of the film. I thought it worked perfectly.
  • It’s 86 minutes long. I think I’ve made my feelings on the length of films clear; if it’s under 90 minutes, I’m much more likely to watch it. Films don’t need to be over two hours long.

What I Didn’t Like

  • As I mentioned above, there is a slight inclination for things to get a bit kooky. A little bit of kookiness goes a long, long way, and luckily I think they just about get the balance right here, but if you easily irritated by that kind of thing, I can understand why you might rail against this film.

Why Should You See This Film?

If you have a Netflix subscription, and a spare 86 minutes, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a beautifully shot film, and it has a really well written character at its heart, performed with aplomb by Greta Gerwig. There’s not a huge amount of plot, but it explores the idea of growing up and really taking on adult responsibilities when you hit that age where it becomes inevitable and necessary. It’s a lovely little film, and definitely deserving of all the praise it received on its initial release.

My Thoughts On… The Bay

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free!

Synopsis

Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs. (via IMDb)

What I Liked 

  • I watched The Bay on the recommendation of one Dr Kermode (not a personal recommendation, you understand. He reviewed it on Wittertainment), because I’ve been on the lookout for a decent horror film for a while. I’m not sure that this really counts as a horror; although it did make me jump a couple of times, it wasn’t out and out scary. It’s probably somewhere between a thriller and a horror, but it’s genuinely really good, and I’m glad I listened to Dr K (he tends to know what he’s talking about).
  • I watched The Bay in the same weekend as having watched The Blair Witch Project, and they are both ‘found footage’ films. I haven’t seen an awful lot of this type of film, but as I mentioned in my post on The Blair Witch Project, I often find myself thinking “Why are they still filming this?” I think The Bay gets away with it because it’s a collection of found footage, rather than just one person’s footage. There are mobile phone videos, police car dashboard videos, webcam videos, and it all comes together to make a film that doesn’t feel contrived at all. The story of the film is that the footage has been suppressed, and it is only now coming to light, through a journalist who was experiencing the events as they happened. This is definitely a good way to construct a found footage film, because there was rarely any point at which I wondered why the characters would still be filming.
  • As I mentioned, the film really, really made me jump on two separate occasions. I wish I’d seen this film at the cinema, as I think these two moments would have been even more effective. It’s also pretty gruesome; the boils and sores that start popping up on people’s bodies are truly disgusting.
  • This is a quiet, slow film. It really takes its time, and builds up to its climax really well. People who need their thrills and scares to be more obvious (“quiet, quiet, quiet, bang!”) will probably lose patience with The Bay (and that’s possibly why it has such a low rating on IMDb), but I really appreciated this about it.
  • I think the scariest thing about the film is that it feels as though it could really happen. Ultimately it’s a disaster brought on by irresponsible behaviour by local bureaucracy, and it causes death and destruction, and then there is a cover up. It’s a film with a message, which is unusual for a low budget horror film!

What I Didn’t Like

  • There’s nothing I didn’t like; I loved The Bay!

Why Should I See This Film?

The Bay is a really nice little film; it’s actually scary in places, which is more than I’ve found with some horror films that I have watched recently. I really like that it’s a slow and patient film – it doesn’t try too hard, so in those moments where it actually made me jump, it felt as though it had worked for it! It’s a bit gruesome in some places, but never gratuitously so, and it’s a film with an environmental message. It’s definitely, definitely worth a watch!

 

My Thoughts On… Jaws

Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to the section titled Why Should You See This Film? where you will find no spoilers!

Synopsis

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (via IMDb)

What I LIked

  • I’ve been wanting to watch Jaws since forever. When I was little, it felt as though it was on every Saturday night, but I wasn’t allowed to watch it. My mum obviously thought it was too scary for a child, and so I grew up thinking it was terrifying. When I got to be a teenager, I was a bit of a wimp, so I assumed that it would be too scary for me to even try to watch. Then, a few years ago, I decided it was time I watched it, and when I heard it was being re-released in cinemas, I thought it was the perfect opportunity, only to find it was a very limited re-release. Then I saw it on DVD for a fiver, and fully intended to buy it, only to not actually do so. It feels as though the universe has been conspiring to ensure that I never see it for years, so when I stayed at my friends and she asked what films we should watch, I suggested Jaws, never expecting that it would actually happen. And then it did. Given all of what went before, I was a little worried that I had built it up to a point where it could only fail to live up to my expectations, but I loved it. Totally and utterly loved it.
  • I really liked Roy Scheider as Brody. Not only does he manage to look totally hot in shorts and a shirt (not a reaction I expected to have to Roy Scheider, if I’m honest), he’s the perfect average Joe, the everyman who finds himself in a horrific situation, and manages to rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done.
  • Richard Dreyfus is similarly well cast (if not as attractive to me as Roy Scheider is), as the nerdy, arrogant marine expert Matt Hooper. I particularly liked the way the friendship between Hooper and Brody develops, and I’m really glad that the decision was made not to include the infidelity storyline from the book, where Hooper sleeps with Brody’s wife. (Did you know that Jaws is really about infidelity, and not about a shark?)
  • There was a specific moment when it became perfectly clear why my mum wouldn’t let me watch Jaws as a child; it will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen it what that moment is. When Ben Gardner’s head pops up underwater to greet Hooper as he is investigating the scene, I jumped out of my skin. Truly terrifying, and if I’d seen it as a child, I probably would have been traumatised. It’s one of many examples of great editing throughout the film; the head pops up at exactly the right moment, because although you know it’s coming, you aren’t given enough time to ready yourself before it does.
  • Obviously I spent the entire film waiting for the quote: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” I thought I knew when it was going to come, but I was wrong! I love Brody’s reaction to the shark, because he doesn’t pretend to play it cool at all. The first time he says it, he’s shocked into near silence, but then he says it again: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat, right?” and then again! “Yeah, but we can radio in and get a bigger boat…” It really made me laugh. The Orca really is spectacularly small and not suitable at all for its purpose.
  • The structure of the film works so well. There are many arguments as to whether or not Jaws has three acts or four, and as someone who has only watched it once, it’s not an argument that I want to wade into. Whether there are three or four, it works perfectly for me. The actual fight between the men and the shark (Bruce, not Jaws) plays out in almost real time, and it just ramped up the tension.
  • OK, so it’s obvious, but without the music, Jaws just wouldn’t be as successful as it is. It’s so simple, and yet so effective!
  • “That’s some bad hat, Harry.” I didn’t know that this was a quote from Jaws, so it was a nice surprise when Brody said it!

What I Didn’t Like

  • I wasn’t fond of Quint. I understand that he’s supposed to be the Ahab character, but he wasn’t my favourite. I enjoyed the scene where he and Hooper were comparing battle wounds, but generally, I wasn’t sad to see him meet a grisly end! I also had major problems with Robert Shaw’s accent at times. It just veered off all over the place!
  • The worst part of the entire film was Quint dragging his nails down the blackboard. I couldn’t quite get my fingers in my ears quickly enough, and even just sitting here typing it is giving me weird shivers. Sometimes when I am laying in bed and just about to fall asleep, I remember it, and it’s not a nice experience.

Why Should You See This Film?

Again, this is another film that I am the last person in the world to watch. I had seen bits of Jaws 2 and Jaws 3, to my shame, but never the original. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a reason why it’s considered a classic. It’s a very, very good film, with genuine scares and huge amounts of brilliant tension. It has a famous score, a famous quote, and a famous shark. It’s amazing, and I want to watch it again already.