I did a notes exchange last week for Falling Star. Got some good suggestions which led to a few structural changes. I think that I’ve increased the contrast and stakes for the conflicts. We’ll see what my opinion is a year from now. An interesting side effect was that I got to read a script for half hour cartoon – not something I would have read otherwise. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t share the details here, but I wish the author well. It was entertaining.
Also entertaining was Godzilla. Not amazing, not mind blowing, not anything of the sort of thing that would get a headline were I to write for a newspaper. It was exactly what it said it was going to be. A Godzilla movie. The fact that it made so much money during the first weekend is a statement about 1) how many people love Godzilla movies, 2) The incredible marketing that made people think they might love a Godzilla movie, and 3) how hungry people are for real action movies rather than CGI demo videos.
The most startling thing for me about the film was the restrained way in which the CGI was used to advance the story rather than using this film as a resume for the next project. Yes, there was a lot of CGI but if you remember Jurassic Park, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Eric Clapton said, “It’s in the way that you use it.” There were no high-speed, shaky camera, Disney World rollercoaster action sequences of giant insects eating fighter planes. You could actually watch the film without getting a headache.
I was not expecting a story so I was pleasantly surprised. There is a story. With arcs and everything. It wasn’t complicated, there were no twists, but it bore us along without being boring. Everything made sense, in a “this is a universe that has Godzilla” sort of way. I didn’t get pulled out of the story saying, “What? That’s dumb.” Maybe it was my low expectations but I don’t think so. I think it was that there was actually a relatable story. I might have done it a little bit differently but I haven’t been hired yet.
The magic formula of this film, in my opinion, is that it didn’t pretend to be something it wasn’t. It promised a story about Godzilla and delivered that in spades with polish and style. I haven’t seen much of that in the action genre over the last few years. Earlier this month I was complaining that CGI has destroyed movies because you don't need any ingenuity in the writing or effects department, you just need some screwball idea and a computer whiz. There has been nothing in any of the Marvel “blockbusters” that even comes close to True Lies. Terminator 2 had computer generated effects, but it was also filled with amazing stunt work that gave the picture a more honest feel.
**Spoiler Alert** in case you haven’t read the papers that said a Godzilla sequel was ordered the Monday after opening weekend. Godzilla gets up at the end of the movie and goes back into the ocean. Like another famous Californian, he’ll be back. Will it be as good? No. It will be the most expensive film made that year and will flop horribly because they’ll insist on “the same but bigger” rather than what works. It’ll be Jurassic Park 2 all over, a big budget brand name rushed to be released in a lucrative time slot.
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