Lazy Saturday: Creature FeaturesPosted: May 17, 2014
I’m feeling more lazy than usual today. I’ve been idly staring at my computer screen for about two hours–searching for interesting news and trying to figure out what to write about. Frankly, I don’t want to write about Jill Abramson’s firing, Glenn Greenwald’s book, the failed American Spring rally, or “mainstream Republicans” running against Tea Party Republicans. I feel as if I need a mental health day. I would like nothing better than to sit around today–or maybe all weekend–watching cheesy horror movies.
Fortunately, there’s a big-budget but still cheesy horror movie playing in theaters right now, Godzilla!! I’m actually considering going to see it. I’m not sure why, because I don’t recall ever watching the old-time Godzilla movies as a kid. I did used to like to watch creature features, and I still do. So maybe I’ll give the 2014 version of Godzilla a chance. It looks corny but entertaining in this early trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC3Mi9vOb_8 The movie opened in theaters yesterday and did extremely well at the box office, according to Deadline Hollywood: ‘Godzilla’ Crushes It: $98M+
UPDATED, SATURDAY, 6:47 AM: The Lizard is leaping. After the morning dust has cleared, Godzilla showed a stronger than expected Friday late night take of $38M+ and is now estimated to haul in $98M+ after the three-day weekend. And with incredible international numbers continuing to roll in, Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures has a monstrous hit on their hands. Late night numbers pushed it past $36M and surprised everyone this AM.
PREVIOUSLY, FRIDAY 10:47 PM: Godzilla is beating all expectations tonight with a $36M Friday to push its expected 3-day cume to a monstrous $90M+. The Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures pic is just demolishing the box office right now, thanks to a killer marketing campaign that teased audiences exactly to the right degree. Amazing that the monster is still popular a full 60 years after its introduction, and it’s come a long way from a man walking around in a rubber suit. The CGI eye candy, which cost $195M…is playing well on IMAX screens. It also is opening around the world at the same time to huge numbers…
Some reviews: Dana Stevens at Slate: Want to See a Giant Radioactive Lizard Whale on Stuff? Then Godzilla Delivers. This review begins with some helpful background on the Godzilla archetype:
The original Godzilla—a hugely influential Japanese monster movie made in 1954 as a direct response to a recent ripped-from-the-headlines tragedy—is a staggeringly powerful film, but in some ways it’s hard to account for the long cinematic life its title character has enjoyed. Ishirō Honda’s somber Godzilla (the Japanese title,Gojira, was created by combining the words for “gorilla” and “whale”) was a raw scream of collective anxiety from a nation that, nine years before, had survived two atomic bombings, and that was now finding itself caught, quite literally, in the fallout zone of the U.S./Soviet race to build and test an even more destructive hydrogen bomb. That original Godzilla seems so tied to the time and place of its creation that it’s hard to mentally transpose the central monster—a lumbering mega-dinosaur coaxed from the ocean depths by human experiments with radiation—into any other context. Yet that transposition has now occurred 32 times in 60 years (give or take a mecha-lizard), most recently in the form of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, in which the lumbering lizard is reinvented—not for the first time—as humanity’s potential helpmate.
I guess it’s not hard to see the enduring appeal of the Godzilla myth, even divorced from the context of traumatized post-World War II Japan. The arrogance of human attempts to best the gods with technology is an eternally relevant theme (Icarus, Prometheus, Faust, Frankenstein, Flubber), and there’s no gainsaying the basic fun to be had in watching a bumpy-skinned reptile as big as a skyscraper reduce an entire city to rubble beneath his gargantuan stomping feet. Plus, by now Godzilla, with his radioactive fire-breath, stumpy waving forelegs, and aversion to intact skylines, is an archetypal, almost lovable figure—a quality highly valued by film studios in search of market-ready tentpole entertainments. Edwards’ Godzilla is likely to do a decent job holding up its end of Warner Bros.’ 2014 tent: It’s a smooth, sleek, technologically awe-inspiring 3-D blockbuster with a top-shelf cast (speaking middle-to-lower-shelf dialogue most of the time, to be sure, but they do it with style).
Hmmm . . . Like Jaws I, in which we barely glimpsed the animitronic great white shark? Still that was a great movie, one of my favorite creature features of all time.
On Twitter, Ian Bremmer commented on the “slow unveiling of the monster” issue:
Although I wasn’t a Godzilla fan as a kid, I used to love lots of the old “creature features” that were shown on late night TV back in those days. One of my favorites was the 1954 film “Them,” which was about giant mutant ants created by radioactivity from atomic bomb tests in New Mexico.
Also from 1954, The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I’ll post some more recent creature feature favorites in the comment thread, because I’m having a horrendous time with the WordPress editor today. What are your favorite creature features? Are you a Godzilla fan?
Of course, feel free to use the thread to discuss and post links on politics or any other topic that interests you.