Godzilla is the new film by Gareth Edwards. I am not a person familiar with Godzilla. For the longest time, the only one I saw was the Emmerich version, which kinda sucks, but in an entertaining way. 98 is great snark bait with friends. It wasn’t until this year that I saw Godzilla vs Biollante in order to get the feel of a proper Godzilla movie. It also helped that I had my friend Christian, who many of you know as the voice of Zandos from Project 13’ and a great Spider-Man cosplayer, to hype me up with his fanboyness.
I liked this Godzilla film enough. You can tell that Edwards is very passionate about this source material, in contrast to the soulless Emmerich movie. The acting for the most part is good, especially from Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston. Visually, the film is extremely impressive and stylistic. The human characters feel very bland, which made a lot of the scenes cutting back to them very distracting after a while. The only exception was Cranston’s character. There was a lot of nice dark comedy too. Do not come into this film expecting a Pacific Rim style action film, though with the way it was advertised, it looked more like a horror film with a Kaiju anyway.
I give it a recommendation, it’s not amazing, but I like it and it’s a film you should see in the theater because of the stunning visuals and moreso, the sound. From here on, this review will have spoilers, but no major ones: Everything about the trailers is a lie. A lot of scenes in the trailers don’t even appear in the movie. Bryan Cranston is advertised as the lead, but instead it’s Kick-Ass, who does okay. Godzilla is sold as the sole villain that causes the destruction when it’s in fact 2 monsters that look like they were designed by Blizzard, call MUTOs. In fact, many shots in the trailer are altered to not have the MUTOs at all, most notably, the shot at the end of the trailer where Godzilla roars while the doors close, that actual shot in the movie, Godzilla is fighting a MUTO.
This film does show some restraint. Not every fight between the kaijus are shown. It lacks the CGI excess that other comparable summer blockbusters like Man of Steel have. We get an idea and the aftermath, but it’s not until the final act that we actually see Godzilla take on the creatures, making the climactic battle very satisfying. The movie’s star, Godzilla, who only appears for a few minutes, is incredibly awesome in this film. His design was remade to be built like a bear, and he fights like one too. They gave him a more realistic build for his massive size, with very large feet. What the film also has is a massive sense of scale, you see Godzilla and the MUTOs towering over skyscrapers, and you really feel how small the people are compared to these godlike monsters. Every single Kaiju aspect of the film is perfect.
Now, the faults of the film really come down to the human characters and writing. Bryan Cranston’s character loses his wife in the first scene, so you get his attachment to the situation at hand. He has a complete character and brought his A-Game to this role. The downside is that he’s gone after the first act, leaving the story in the much less capable hands of Aaron Johnson, who plays his son. This character is just really bland, the only way we connect to him is that he has a son and wife that are in danger from the 2 MUTOs as well. The plot with how our main character keeps running into the monsters is super contrived to the point of weeping hilarity, like, there’s no way that he’d keep running into this thing, and also no way he’d be at the exact place where his skills are needed at all these points. His wife is just around to be his wife, she doesn’t do anything. Ken Watanabe is there to explain Godzilla to the audience, and to have faith in his ability to kick ass. He would’ve made a better lead, but it’s fine.
The human element to the story ironically doesn’t come from any of the major characters. It’s most effective when we see it from the view of a random character we never stick with, but the movie makes us feel how terrifying a 350 ft tall 80,000 ton behemoth would be. Godzilla coming to land causes a tsunami for crying out loud. It also helps that people have very realistic reactions, for example, there’s a scene where Elizabeth Olsen as our hero’s wife sees Godzilla fight the MUTO on the news, and her look a perfect mix of confusion and terror. There were no comic relief characters unlike 98. It works in order to stir up the dread that these monsters have. If the characters aren’t afraid of the giant monsters that are immune to bullets, why should we be? Also, there’s a fantastic scene where one of the MUTOs is passing through Vegas, while people are gambling. We see a TV cut to a live feed of the creature rampaging, and then all lights go out because the creature has EMP. No one saw the live feed, and they’re annoyed until the building breaks open. These dark comedy scenes make up the laughs of this film, and they work because they don’t diminish the monsters.
So overall, despite the faults, Godzilla 2014 is a good watch that I would recommend to anyone who finds giant monsters cool.