Godzilla (2014)

50e3ea8eabf54b3628e2fecabcb9f655I just came home after a long day. My boyfriend and I were to a family gathering  a party for one  of his nephews – his confirmation. As so many family gathering it was loud, too much food, there were too many people I had no idea who was and I found it kind of tiring – as I often do with that kind of gathering. At least it was rather casual and we were able to skip the church part of the day. So when we were going home by train I suggested going to see a movie – and boy was I in the mood for some dumb action by then. Luckily for us Godzilla just had its premiere – which seemed like the perfect match.

Let me start by stating that I went into the movie without knowing anything about it. I had not seen the trailer or heard or seen anything about it. I was expecting dinosaur(s) fighting something among skyscrapers. I didn’t expect any kind of deep movie. I was expecting dumb fun action with great special effects.gz-mpcvfx-0013rv2_1600x1068

And boy did I get that! The action scenes were great! They were exciting and visually very satisfying. I mean look at that picture – wow just wow! So on that front I was very very happy. And I will also say that I found the movie quite entertaining as a whole.

The movie of course required me to turn of big parts of my science minded part of my brain, but I totally expect that from big dumb action movies with monsters. Sometimes i was a bit silly but then the monsters would come back on-screen and remind me that – oh I am watching a big dumb action movie, I should stop thinking so hard.

Oh so you can hear a but coming a mile away, can’t you? Well my but is that it felt like a movie shot in another time. Not because the visual effects were old or anything like that. But because of the casting choices. It felt like they went with the choices I would have expected on a movie in 1992. Both the race and the sex of the characters were so stereotypical that it was almost embarrassing. Not that the movie was racist or sexist – there were no bad jokes centered on “ladies” or using racial slurs – it is not that kind of movie. It actually have next to no jokes or punch lines. Let me run down the major roles (order of IMDB listing)…

Ford Brody: Marine, bomb expert, husband, father, white, straight, young, fit and male
Dr. Ichiro Serizawa: Doctor, monster expert, asian, middle-aged and male
Joe Brody: Leader of a nuclear power plant in Japan, phd., middle-aged, father, American, straight and male
Elle Brody: Nurse, wife, mother, white, straight, young, American and female
Vivienne Graham: Assistant to Serizawa, scientist, white and female
Sandra Brody: Scientist, mother, white, straight and female
Admiral William Stenz: Admiral, white, middle-aged and male
Captain Russell Hampton: Captain, black and male

I will stop with those… Lets start by noticing that the cast is quite male heavy. And there is an awfully lot of white guys there – especially for a movie that starts in Japan. Joe Brody is for some reason this american guy who is in charge of a Japanese nuclear plant where everyone speaks English even though he speaks perfect Japanese. Ok you think but Dr. Serizawa is asian right, yes he is and guess what role he has in the lot… You guessed it he is of course the wise man – the voice of reason that task us to respect the course of nature and not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Admiral Stenz is of course white while his second in command is of course black. They couldn’t make the more interesting choice of swapping those. There is also the interesting little titbit that Joe has the son Ford who is a lost child in the start of the movie, later Ford’s son is lost and Ford save another couple’s son in a different part of the world. What’s with all the male children? There is a little girl show in one of those human interest scene they do in disaster movies, but she is in no way relevant for the plot. Ok but there were three women on that cast list, wasn’t there. Well there was and I will get to that in a minute. I will just notice that I didn’t see any female soldiers in this movie and at least 70% of the extras in the movie was male. Almost anyone that Ford interact with in the movie is male, other than his wife.

From the left: Sandra Brody, Elle Brody, Vivienne Graham

Wow those ladies look like capable women and they are… that for once isn’t the problem. They are all really cool professional woman who are good at their jobs and seems quite capable. I say seems because none of them really get much screen time.

Sandra is Ford’s mother and most of the time she is on-screen that is who she is in the movie. The reason she is important to the movie, is not because of her job on the power plant, but because she is Ford’s mother and Joe’s wife. Elle is Ford’s wife and the mother of their son which is why she is in the movie at all. She also happens to be a nurse or perhaps a doctor, that isn’t really clear – what seems to be important to the movie about her job is that she takes care of people – which is why I chose that picture. Vivienne is the kind of character who might as well not have been in the movie, she is only there so Dr. Serizawa has someone to talk science at and do exposition with. She does not come up with any useful ideas or even put forth much information that Dr. Serizawa didn’t also have. These are three big female characters in the movie.

There is one more speaking woman in movie who isn’t an extra and she is Elle’s friend and they are only talking about Ford and Elle’s son – getting him to safety. The three main women never talk to each other (but whatever). That wasn’t what bugged me – what bugged me was that they hard cast so obvious choices to fill those roles. All white, all fairly attractive (thin) women in chose that are traditionally filled by women in fiction. The sacrifice that motivates a male character. The caregiver and wife who are there to be human interest. And the assistant who is probably a great scientist in her own right, but who is there to be used for exposition purposes.

Ok… so did that ruin the movie for me? No it didn’t but it did annoy me and take me out of the movie. I kept thinking why are they all men, where are all the non-white people. Why is even the FEMA person Ford talks to a white man – on Hawaii?

The movie also take some interesting choices with its story telling but to go into that would be very spoilery and I think I will leave that for no. The movie only just premiered after all.

It was however a big fun action movie with monsters and in that regard I think it did a pretty good job. Visually it did a great job and the effects were very nice. And I loved how Godzilla looked! So let me end up with an action shot.


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