Godzilla (2014) Review

“Godzilla” is one of those rare movies that really grabbed me by the trailer. It’s the kind of trailer that gave me goosebumps and resulted in me showing it to all of my friends numerous times. That hasn’t really happened since I saw the “Elysium” trailer in the cinema and that movie was only relatively good. In the same way, “Godzilla” initially blew me away with it’s teasers, and in the same way, only accomplished a fraction of what it convinced us it would.

The plot is fairly generic, which is absolutely fine and I didn’t expect any more from a Godzilla movie. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) serves as our star, even though the trailers would have us believe Bryan Cranston was filling that particular role. He instead serves as the archetypal “I know there are monsters but no one believes me” character that is inevitably proven to be on the money much to everyone else’s disbelief (I sometimes wonder if people in movies have ever seen one) and he does a good job with what he’s given. Mankind has essentially nursed a big bad Kaiju that isn’t Godzilla and it has suddenly awoken and become a rather large problem. Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) has overseen this big mistake and has realised all too late that the creature must be destroyed or people will inevitably die. Godzilla luckily also rears his ugly head and the revelation is made that perhaps he can do their job for them. Clearly this is laying the groundwork of a movie that is refreshingly reminiscent of the old formula used by the original Toho productions, albeit with a less campy approach. Godzilla can no longer be compared to Barney, he can’t even comprehend that such a puny being exists, never mind why he’d teach children to brush their teeth. Godzilla is a dinosaur that transcends oral hygiene.

I think it’s not a surprise to anyone that the film is absolutely gorgeous. It’s easy to see where the budget has gone and what we see looks incredible, note I say “what we see”. Initially it appeared that Godzilla would be aware of what it is just like “Pacific Rim” before it, that being a monster movie. As monster movies go nowadays, very few can actually accomplish meaningful characterisation and even fewer try. Godzilla has never accomplished this in his past and unfortunately the attempt is made here and it occupies a majority of the run time. It even occupies scenes where a fight really should be taking place but Director Gareth Edwards (monsters) seems content with cutting away to supposedly meaningful scenes where we see Ford’s family, composed of his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son (Carson Bolde), dealing with his involvement in the Kaiju incident. Ford’s son in particular is a perfect example of the misconception held by Directors that all you need to effectively portray a child in a movie is by using the words “Mommy” and “Daddy” interchangeably. There isn’t a single character in this movie with any real flair besides Bryan Cranston’s character, Joe Brody. This is unfortunate considering that early on in the film their is a moment that is proof that Edwards understands how to elicit emotions from the audience, even with characters that we have only just met. The moment i’m referring to I will not spoil, because it is the only tear jerker in the whole film.

Godzilla suffers from being flat out boring and clunky a lot of the time. Too much time is spent waiting for things to happen whilst we are subjected to fairly painful attempts at creating tension and build up towards the inevitable final battle. Why not have more than one battle? It baffles me but at least it is a step in the right direction (away from 1998’s mess of a Godzilla) as we finally see Godzilla fight other huge monsters, yes there is more than one. Whilst it’s not really true to say that it was worth waiting for three quarters of the movie just to see some action i’m pleased to report that it was well done and boasted a great understanding of how to film epic action sequences. In fact, the film boasts some fairly stellar cinematography that absolutely blew me away and it gave you time to appreciate it too. Watching HALO troops with flares fall to the ruined Las Vegas illuminating the layers of clouds as they fall was mind blowing  to me and again it shows that Gareth Edwards is more than capable to do so much more and I believe he could break out with this movie and have a sparkling career ahead of him. It’s something I would definitely like to see in the future and I look forward to see what he has to offer to the industry

It would be a lie to say that the movie didn’t disappoint me somewhat, but it would also be a lie to say I left any where near as genuinely upset as I did after seeing “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” earlier this month. 1954’s “Godzilla” is often viewed as the pinnacle of the Kaiju genre (which I would heartily disagree with) partly due to its relevance as a result of the worlds fear of radiation and especially Japan’s subjection to it in 1945 with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Godzilla” tries to recreate this theme with an extended lesson on why we cant control nature as it controls us for that extra slice of contextual relevance. Whilst Godzilla shoots for lofty heights the only thing that truly reaches them is the monster himself, but a good time can eventually be scavenged from its numerous pitfalls.

That fight though… I tell you I squealed like a girl when what happened HAPPENED. You’ll know what i’m talking about when you see it, and you absolutely won’t blame me.

6/10

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