I basically got nothing today, and I have to write my book, which means I cannot brain about anything else. Ergo you’ll have to be satisfied with persiflage like this.
Anthony Lane of The New Yorker is my favorite film critic. He’s a lively writer, seems to have a prodigious knowledge of film, and, most important, agrees with me about most movies. A bonus is that he’s a lover of cats, having written a great introduction to The Big New Yorker Book of Cats, which, courtesy of a thoughtful friend, I now own.
But I think Lane made a rather egregious biological error in his latest review: that of the new version of Godzilla, now showing in a small room at your local and overpriced multiplex.
His review begins this way:
Wrinkled and crinkled, huge in Japan, heroically reluctant to give up, and forever touring the world on a mission to make us scream, Godzilla is the Mick Jagger of giant amphibians.
Yes, that’s a cute simile. But I ask you, does this look like a giant amphibian?
An early mock-up:
It’s got scales and a spiky tail! Now it might be an amphibious reptile, or a hybrid between a reptile and something else, or a completely fictitious creature, but one thing it’s not is an amphibian. What happened to the vaunted fact-checking of The New Yorker? Perhaps I should hire myself out to Mr. Lane as a “biological film consultant.”
At any rate, Lane pans the film, faulting the plot, the misuse of good actors, and a bunch of other stuff. His final words are these:
Best of all, as the light thickens and dies over the Bay Area, toward the end, the movie does grind and smash its way into a kind of majesty—a shadow play, almost, with airborne troops dropping in free fall through the storm clouds, devil-red flares strapped to their heels, and Godzilla and his cronies going mano a mano in the murk. By now, the beasts are barely distinguishable: an abstract, infernal chaos of warty skin and swipes of vicious claw. That’s what the perfect “Godzilla” should be: no character development, no backstory, no winsome kids, just hints and glimpses of immeasurable power—enough to make you jump and twitch and leave you sweating for more. Luckily, that ideal already exists, and it requires only two minutes, not two hours, of your time. So, skip “Godzilla” the movie. Watch the trailer.
So, to save you $10 and two hours, here’s the trailer: