Godzilla ★★½

Edwards provides his own thesis early on as Ken Watanabe runs to the deck: "I...I have to see this," he tells Sally Hawkins. So the direction gives us a lot of really great individual compositions. Maybe it's nice to feel like these things were storyboarded ahead of time in terms of what would best represent the iconic monster. But at a certain point, a lot of this felt like imagery instead of images, and worse, they often felt static, as if designed for the #PerfectShots Twitter account (essentially ripped of their movement). This might sound bizarre, but I kept thinking of Michael Bay's direction in the Transformers films, where the camera swings in and out of his mechanical beasts - the camera has as much velocity as the robots - while Edwards mostly stays back, letting the slowness stay put. This is part by design, as he's trying to work on this idea of scale between human and monster (I appreciate that you really do get a sense that they considered how exactly a building would fall whenever a monster would land on it).

But a lot of these shots just kind of have a flatness to them; the awe factors slowly dropping as more and more must be shown, and the constant switching from monster battle to tiny human struggles (which for a "post-human blockbuster" is still terribly written when we have to indulge it) is all done with cutting instead of these grand movements of the camera. He occasionally finds a really fascinating moving image - a leg rising just out of focus in the background of the frame, the tracking shot at the airport until the interruption of a reveal, or that shot under the bridge of a giant beast moving his way while a radio blips. And there's certainly a Spielbergian construction of set pieces - placing one person here, one monster there, another item here before the destruction begins - but when the shot construction is all based on one awesome image after another, I'm not sure that really works. Maybe it's my own current interest in gestures instead of compositions, but this made me mostly excited to see Transformers: Age of Extinction.

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