Usually for the Wacky World blog, I've been sharing odd rubber band-based projects that I've found online. But I'm taking a break from that to take on another project that we dabble in occasionally: movie reviews rating a film not on its accomplishments as a work of art, but how it features rubber products.
I went into "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" expecting plenty of rubber to work with, given the series' long history of using latex and rubber materials to build costumes and for other effects. But given that a majority of the monster work was done with CGI, I wondered how it would hold up to the classic look.
The movie gives a few close-up shots of the monsters as they come within reach of a human, and in each case, the surface is rough and craggy, with a different texture depending on the monster. While the scales and such themselves were almost certainly a CGI texture mapped over a motion capture actor, I decided to look at the shots from the perspective of the designer. The surface looked real, but when in contact with a human, still seemed to have a gator-skin quality that latex mimicked so well in the early movies. Even if the monsters themselves were digital, there still seemed to be an effort to preserve the original look.
That said, the movie was overall disappointing in rubber products. From the jump, there are multiple aircraft landing and taking off, and in almost every case, the landing gear is kept just out of frame. This was probably to save on digital animation costs, but it's a missed opportunity. I was also expecting lots of military vehicles with plenty of rubber-heavy parts such as tank treads, but the fight scenes don't give much room to work with there either. One of the only recurring vehicles in the movie, a Humvee, seems to always have its tires' brand obscured from one angle or another.
If anything, the rubber products in the movie are a hindrance to the human characters. In one of the only scenes where rubber takes center focus, the main human hero is tangled in rubber hoses as a helicopter is toppled, nearly dragging him to his death. Not exactly the best reference.
I could only find one heroic scene in which rubber played a part, through the use of some coated cables used to hook up a machine to a broadcast system in a moment of crisis. There are a few shots of soldiers in military gear that looked as if it could be made of an elastomer, but protective gear didn't do much to really protect many people in this film.
While the overall visuals were impressive (and the actual story pretty thin), the movie mostly showed rubber products in the background or as an obstacle, if they weren't clipped out of the frame altogether. That said, the up-close glimpses of monster put me in mind of the older costumes. I rate "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" at two rubber bands out of five.
Kyle Brown is a reporter for Rubber & Plastics News who watched a lot of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 while growing up. Follow him on Twitter at @kbrownRPN.