What’s it About?
The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
Directed by Gareth Edwards
5 out of 10
Summer is here and as per good tradition, our (proposed) summer blockbuster is here as well as Gojira stomps into theaters.
Directed by Gareth Edwards who made his name with the small independent movie ‘Monsters’ and starring the freshly retired Walter White (which is to say Bryan Cranston) it’s bound to fill up the seats all over the world, but is it any good? I came into Godzilla with high expectations following the flood of trailers that hit the web. Wonderful special effects, a very able cast (Bryan Cranston shares the lead with Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson) what could go wrong right? A lot is the answer.
Godzilla starts out with a real sense of foreboding, we meet Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) working at a nuclear plant in 1999 and follow him as a freak accident causes the nuclear plant to collapse and his wife to die. In true blockbuster fashion we skip forward to the present and find his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) grown up and working for the military as a bomb expert, with Joe having his own Mel Gibson (Conspiracy Theory) moment as he still tries to find out what happened on that day when he lost his wife. So far, so good. Even though it’s your standard monster movie fare, Cranston sells it to us. Shortly after Ford bails out his dad for trespassing into nuclear grounds to see his old house again, they decide to try and visit their old home together and stumble upon the government doing some suspicious testing.
It’s at this moment that the movie starts to fall apart as rapidly as the buildings crumbling in it. The government has been monitoring a huge alien egg which shortly after Ford and Joe find out about it, opens up and unleashes a very Cloverfield-esque monster called a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Target Object). It’s at this moment that the movie makes one of its biggest mistakes as it (SPOILER) kills off Bryan Cranston’s character and with it the entire build-up of the movie. Shortly after the MUTO breaking free, a generic scientist played by Ken Watanabe thinks that Godzilla (not heard or spoken or seen since 1954 according to the movie) will probably come and restore the balance of nature. There is absolutely NO reason to make that statement as dear old Gojira has not given one sign of life but what do you know? He is suddenly on his way to kick some MUTO ass.
At this point, we switched to Ford as our main protagonist, you make up some sort of balance for yourself and think: ‘ok, this is going the Emmerich route now’ and wait for the mayhem to begin. But here’s the second HUGE mistake in the movie: Godzilla is maybe used for 15 minutes maximum. Everytime he enters the frame, from his initial reveal to the final climax, director Edwards cuts away from the action. I can honestly say that the trailer probably features entire scenes of him since he’s on for the same amount of screen time in the actual movie.
At first you might consider it for what it is: a tease of what’s to come. But after 7 instances of Godzilla roaring (an epic roar) and not seeing any action, it gets annoying fast. To add to that is the fact that Ford as a lead character just isn’t interesting, his journey is ridiculous to say the least, from hitching a ride with the military to being dubbed ‘the bomb expert’ later on in the movie, the script hangs together from loose threads.
When it’s thoroughly explained that the MUTO feeds from radioactive material and bombs, generic military man #8 advises they should start making a nuclear bomb to lure the creature away from the city (San Francisco this time btw, New Yorkers rest easy for once!) it’s not logical to have that MUTO intercept the bomb (which is being transported by train because..why fly right?) and NOT eat it so the military can track it down and use it again the next day. It’s also not very logical that when the bomb needs to be removed from the city center later on, 8 marines carry a 1400 ton weighing bomb by hand out of a crater the size of Utah to a boat near shore (20 miles farther up town) within 30 minutes.
When the movie, after 120 excruciatingly slow minutes, reaches its climax, you and everyone around you, will have lost interest.
The fact that Godzilla is SO big (as well as the MUTO’s it fights against) makes it hard to really get into it. It feels like you’re watching a video game and Godzilla, how well realized he may be in terms of effects just doesn’t manage to save the mess. Attempts at making him some sort of all understanding savior also fail miserably with one particular ‘moment’ so cringe worthy it’ll make you laugh. Illustrative of big movies these days is the hype it tends to create, so with a 40 million dollar marketing budget it’s bound to fill seats. But with many negative reviews only just now hitting the internet, and the IMDB 9.0 grade already declining to a 7.5 as we speak, it seems my opinion is shared amongst others.
A sequel is already in the making which will hopefully feature Godzilla more then the sparse times we see him here, and who knows, maybe it’ll work. As for director Edwards, he professed his love for Spielberg and ‘Jaws’, one that I share with him, and says he modelled Godzilla after Jaws in terms of ‘not showing the monster right away’, what mr. Edwards forgot while he was to busy incorporating many nods to Spielberg in his movie (Brody anyone? as well as a opening scene very similar to Jurassic Park in the beginning) is that ‘Jaws’ built tension with its audience throughout the entire movie. Godzilla runs out of steam after 40 minutes.
And so we come to the conclusion..should you watch it? Yes, but not in theatres. Wait for a rainy Sunday afternoon, know that it’s more about humans then monsters, know that it’s not the best script in the world and maybe, just maybe, you’ll mildly enjoy yourself. As it stands now, Godzilla is the first real disappointment of this years summer tent-pole movies.
Great review. I liked the film and thought the majority of the film was good, which is a nice change from the 98 version which was mostly bad.
The visuals and tone worked really well but the characters where lifeless, except Cranston.
Still bring on MechaGodzilla! 😀
Pretty fair review. Just come out of a screening and I’m a little disappointed. Strong work.
Good review Paul. I had a bunch of fun with this movie, but it was in a more tense way. Not just “dumb fun”, like most summer blockbusters usually are.
Thanks for all the kind words guys. I know it’s a rather opinionated piece I wrote but I feel as though it had so many missed opportunties. For everything it did do right, it made 10 mistakes.
Thanks for the kind words guys!
I actually really liked this movie despite the average acting from our two leads and some of the dumb things in this movie that you mentioned, especially the monster not eating the nuke and soldiers running it around like it’s a paperweight. Godzilla’s screen time is extremely limited but they kept me interested with the occasional roar which was still pretty cool even if they were holding a piece of candy above a baby’s reach while doing so. Opinionated pieces are fine with me as long as you back it up, something you do more than adequately. Good job Paul.
OUCH! I’m a HUGE fan of this film. I actually loved the unconventional approach. The deliberate storytelling and buildup hearkened back to many of those old classic 50s sci-fi creature features. For me that was a real strength but I can definitely see where it wouldn’t be for everyone.
Going to see this tomorrow with my son and his friend (who already saw it and loved it) and I think I will be enjoying it a lot more than Paul actually did, lol. We’ll see. I will be posting my own write up afterwards.
I appreciate you checking in and reading Paul’s review, Keith. Great to hear from you, man!
Sure thing. It was a solid review and I think he echoes many people’s thoughts. Personally I loved it and I’m anxious to hear your thoughts.