Directed by Gareth Edwards
As a kid I grew up on Godzilla, the first one I watched being King Kong vs. Godzilla if I recall correctly. From then on I was hooked. Granted, some of the movies were not that great, but there was definitely some level of entertainment value in each one. Then the 1998 Godzilla hit. I don’t think I need to get into what that movie did to Godzilla fans, but I know my mental scars are pretty much faded away these days.
And then I had heard about a new American Godzilla movie in the works. Naturally I was plenty worried about it. Then the first trailer popped up. I won’t deny that hearing the Godzilla scream at the end of the trailer gave me chills, and my worry immediately turned into excitement. Like many fans of the King of the Monsters, I rewatched some of the old Toho classics in preparation for the theatrical release. Then last night I sat down in the theater seat to soak in the awesomeness.
I was approximately two-thirds into the movie when I considered walking out of the place.
Before I get into things, I’m going to give a disclaimer as I’m going to probably bring up minor spoilers throughout this review. They’re most likely tidbits you’ve already heard about, but in case they’re not, you have now been warned.
I was going to start with everything I didn’t like first, but I think I’ll attempt a good point/bad point method first, at least until I can’t control myself anymore. Let’s start with the acting. The acting was amazing. As you might expect, Bryan Cranston is to me the highlight of the movie in terms of the human aspect. His character Joe Brody is sympathetic in his obsession with discovering the cause of the destruction of the Janjira nuclear plant after it costs the life of his wife. The problem with his role is that it’s just too short; instead the majority of the movie focuses on his son Ford (Aaron-Taylor-Johnson) and Ford’s attempts to get back home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son Sam (Carson Bolde). Ken Watanabe is also great as the scientist Ishiro Serizawa. Unfortunately, his role is relegated to nothing but shocked looks and philosophical mutterings about Godzilla being a “force of nature” and meant to be the balance against the other monster involved.
Ah, the other monster. The MUTO, as it’s called, is….ok looking. However, it seems to borrow some of its characteristics from other monsters (the first that comes to many people’s minds is the Cloverfield monster it seems). Its head is also reminiscent of a monster I’ve seen from the Gamera universe (the monster Gyaos to be specific). As I expected, Hollywood was lacking in the creativity department with this monster.
You may have noticed that I really haven’t talked about Godzilla himself yet. Well, it’s probably because he’s actually a minor character in this, the movie called GODZILLA!! You don’t get to see him until about an hour into the movie. And after his first appearance, you only get to see him sporadically. A tail here, his back spikes there. You get to see quick scenes of him swimming to San Francisco here and there as well. But when the monsters meet to fight, boy is it something!! That is, until the camera cuts away after 10-15 seconds to see what the humans are up to. And this happens multiple times, for maximum irritation.
Look, I was not expecting two hours of non-stop destruction to happen. I wasn’t even expecting a lot of Godzilla. In a few of the older Toho releases, you don’t get to see Godzilla until late in the movie. But that doesn’t work for the 2014 release. Why? Because for one thing, people have been waiting for ten freaking years to see Godzilla again, only to constantly be denied when he’s about to do something awesome. Even that wouldn’t be such an issue in itself, except for the fact that everyone that isn’t Bryan Cranston’s character is very dull and uninteresting. Everyone damn well knows that the Ford character is going to make it back. there’s absolutely no drama there, and it’s a large focus of the movie. It could have been completely cut out and it wouldn’t have affected anything. If Cranston was in it for the majority of the running time, the non-Godzilla would not have been nearly as difficult to endure. The funny thing is that Even Cranston has more screen time than Godzilla, I’m pretty sure. Every other main character and the MUTO has more, this much is for sure.
There are some good things to come out of this. Unlike a lot of people out there, I thought Godzilla looked great. And when he first shows up and roars, I got goosebumps just like when watching the trailer. the CGI destruction was incredibly detailed, and while I generally don’t promote CGI, this time it was used very effectively. Camerawork was ok, nothing spectacular. And they chose to go with a slightly shaky cam effect even with simple conversations which, as you know, always bothers me. And the end fight between the monsters, while not the longest or most action packed, was still very fun to watch and was the best part of the movie for me.
Was the end fight worth wading through two hours of uninteresting characters and development though? Not for the full price of a movie ticket, especially a 3D movie ticket. Oh, that reminds me; the 3D sucked. Most of the time I forgot it was even in 3D, so once again they take extra money out of your wallets for an ineffective gimmick. I can’t exactly say you shouldn’t watch this movie, but I do recommend that if your local cinema has a cheap ticket day/night, go see it then. Or better yet, if you have the patience, wait until it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray and rent it. Just don’t spend more than you have to. That’s all I got for this. Rest in peace.
Macabre Rating: 2.5 out of 5 tombstones.