Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review 267: "Godzilla (2014)"

Let them fight.

Not a Lot of Fish

      Godzilla is a 2014 American version of the classic Japanese movie monster. After the 1998 American Godzilla movie and the Japanese film Godzilla: Final Wars, this marks the first new Godzilla movie in 10 years. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and written by Max Borenstein (Swordswallowers and Thin Men) and follows Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a soldier whose mother (Juliette Binoche) was killed in an accident his father (Bryan Cranston) believed was caused by a creature. Years later, it turns out his father is right and a pair of radiation-eating monsters are heading toward the West Coast, where his wife and son (Elizabeth Olsen and Carson Bolde) are living. As Ford helps the military try to stop the monsters, scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) believes that there is only one thing that can stop the monsters: Godzilla.

Yeah, that might work.
Destroy All Humans

      I might be odd that the one film Godzilla reminded me the most of was Thomas and the Magic Railroad, but I guess the mind works in strange ways. They do share a lot of similarities. They both are movies based on classic characters that sideline those characters to focus on new, bland characters we care nothing about and aren't that well acted. But while Thomas was awful, Godzilla isn't a complete loss. Mostly. Overall, the problem here is a simple one. Godzilla is barely in Godzilla and when he does show up, most of his screentime is given to the human characters around him. And honestly, it just didn't work for me. I love Godzilla and when I see a Godzilla movie, I want to see Godzilla. And, yeah, at times the movie really delivers. Edwards does great here, with some truly beautiful scenes in this movie. The kind of great stuff that you want to frame and put on your wall. The final 20 minutes or so is the awesome monster against Godzilla action you want to see, especially with a big budget. At least, when they don't cut to the damn human characters even 10 seconds.

Master* of Suspense

      Look, don't give me any of the "Oh, you just don't like suspense, you just want to see explosions" bullcrap. I get it. Theoretically, much like Jaws or Alien, keeping the monster hidden is a great way of building suspense. You know, as long as the rest of the movie is interesting. Just because something has suspense doesn't make it good and here, Godzilla is awesome, the suspense works, but the characters we are stuck with for a majority of the time are just awful. Taylor-Johnson literally is lost as a soldier that has nothing to do and no personality to get hims through it. He spends much of the movie just wandering from point to point, occasionally accidentally finding a monster. Every scene he's in is just dull and when they cut away from great monster fighting to show us Lame-Ass, I felt like I was holding back boos. I didn't want Godzilla for some random action. I wanted Godzilla so I could forget about the lame characters. Which wasn't that hard.
      And, on top of that, suspense suggest that it builds up to something. While the film does eventually get to some pretty good monster fighting, with all the cut aways and monster hiding, I really can't say I felt it was properly paid-off. If you had ask me when I left the theater if I was satisfied with the film, I probably would have said no and I don't think my answer would be any different now. I don't want to compare movies, it's really not fair, but look. Pacific Rim set a new precedent for giant monster fights. And while Edwards by no means did badly and the fight here are great, the approach of hid the fight just doesn't work and left me wanting more. And unfortunately, that all just left me disappointed.

More like Breaking Bland.
The Verdict

      There is quite a lot to like here in Godzilla. Edwards creates a beautiful looking film that does offer a terrific Godzilla and some great monster fighting. However, the decision to focus of the human characters might build up suspense, but ultimately fails to back up the long stretches without Godzilla with anything interesting. Thanks to some bland characters, weak acting and the frustrating cutaways, the film ends up leaving a lot to be desired. Still, it's better than the other American Godzilla movie. I mean, I know that's not much, but it's something right? ...Right? Godzilla (2014) gets 3 and a half stars out of 6.


  1. I don't even this this is better than Emmerich's travesty. At least he didn't kill Jean Reno 30 minutes into the movie.

    1. Yeah, it is better. That doesn't mean it gets a good score though.