Godzilla Minus One Is Not A Ten

I’m not going to review the movie here, as there are plenty of reviews already, and I generally endorse them. I will only add that this transcends its nominal genre. It’s not just a monster movie, it’s a period piece, it’s a romance, it is well done. You don’t need to be a “monster movie fan” to appreciate this.

I don’t even challenge the claim that is is the best movie this year.

What I will challenge is anyone who says it is a 10.

I don’t say this because the movie has some great flaw in it. It’s just one of those movies that even if executed perfectly, which it comes credibly close to, still isn’t a 10.

It is like a very nice wooden chair made by a master craftsman for your porch. It may be the product of generations of refinement. It may be the highest quality object you own. It may have no obvious way to improve it. It may well be the nicest piece of porch furniture it can possibly be, and a lesson for all other aspiring furniture craftsman.

Nevertheless, it is not something you’d put in a museum.

Godzilla Minus One is coherent. I saw no obvious plot holes. Not only that, but things are generally established rather than just happening.

Godzilla Minus One has solid themes, drawn from the deepest wells of the human experience.

Godzilla Minus One has good characters who feel human.

Godzilla Minus One had solid cinematography. I recall no shaky cam for shaky cam’s sake. I did not feel the Plane of Separation that green screens create. Events in occurred in places that the characters were in and not merely next to.

And I could probably add a few more things, but this is enough to make my point, which is: These are all good things, but I do not consider these things exceptional.

I consider them the baseline.

I think we have become so accustomed to films lacking these characteristics that we have collectively lost calibration on our review scales. When woke trash that deserves ratings in the 1-3 range for objectively failing on these simple baseline measures get 8s, 9s, and even 10s from media, it is easy to lose that calibration, even if you try to resist it.

I am reminded of the other movie I have the review tag on right now, Nefarious. Is it a great movie? No. In terms of this post, is it even a good movie? I don’t know that it is. But it was competent, and in 2023, that is enough to stand out.

American media has had so little competence in it for so long that it is easy to forget what competence looks like. Convergence has rendered executives, directors, and writers full on Dunning-Kruger incompetent-and-unaware. Have you ever listened to them talk about their own work?

They think they’re doing a good job!

They’ll spew absolute nonsense out, like, how some object symbolized some important theme in their movie, when all it does is sit there in one shot, not framed or emphasized. And then when you think about it you realize that the entire rest of the movie actually worked against what they thought the theme was. I make that up as an example, I have no particular movie in mind for that, but every time I see a modern Hollywood director talk about their movie, that’s what I see.

They know the words they are supposed to blather about. Theme, symbolism, character arc, cinematography. But they are not even close to the substance of those words.

Too much exposure to the result of this incompetence dulls your sensibilities.

Godzilla Minus One is possibly the best movie this year… but it shouldn’t be. It should be jostling for position with another half-a-dozen equally competent movies, and being beaten down for the disadvantages it has a foreign film. There was a time in American cinema history when this is what would have happened, and Toho wouldn’t even have even tentatively put their toe in this water.

Godzilla garnering so many 10/10 type reviews for a 9/10 movie is a manifestation of the fact that Hollywood’s convergence has reached the point that the rest of world is now not just probing them for weakness, but finding weakness.

History has many instances of what happens when something that was unassailable simply because everyone believed it was unassailable becomes recognized by all as vulnerable.

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