Movie Review: Godzilla.
Directed By: Gareth Edwards.
Written By: Max Borenstein.
Starring: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston.
Cinemas biggest monster makes his epic return to the big screen in what is undoubtedly one of 2014's biggest blockbusters. Godzilla is back!
Now for the three of you who are unfamiliar with Godzilla, he is basically a big dinosaur who rises from the ocean to fight other monsters (basic outline). America tried to bring Godzilla to the big screen back in 1998 and the thing that was missing from that movie was other monsters! So I am very happy to say that Godzilla gets to kick some ass in this movie!
I was very excited for Godzilla, it was in my TOP 10 most anticipated of the year and I just wanted to see the king of the monsters make his return in an epic way. Godzilla has always been my favorite monster, I was a kid obsessed with dinosaurs so he just fascinated me.
The trailers for the movie were incredible, they promised us epic action but an interesting story as well.
But I have to say, a part of me was disappointed when I left the theater.
Throughout the film we are teased with big fight scenes between Godzilla and the M.U.T.O but the film cuts away and leaves us waiting until the very end. This is a classic trope of [Godzilla](movie:45291) movies but to be teased so many times was getting annoying by the end.
Another big thing this movie has going for it is Bryan Cranston, undoubtedly one of the best actors working today. He is fresh off one of the best TV shows ever created, Breaking Bad. And I wanted to see him lead a big movie like this. But he's hardly in the movie. Cranston was put all over the trailers and it made him seem like the lead role. The movie could have benefited a lot from Cranston as the lead because he is the one character that I actually found interesting and had some depth to him. In the first 10 minutes we get emotionally connected to this character and that connection could have easily lasted throughout the 2 hour movie but instead we get Aaron Taylor Johnson as our lead. I found Johnson just so completely boring in the movie, and I am a huge fan of his! But he was just completely emotionless throughout. I don't know if that was just part of his hardened soldier personality but for a main character, he was boring. Bryan Cranston was absolutely terrific in the scenes that he actually had and I was so invested in his character.
My big problem with the movie is that it lacked character and that fits both for the human characters and Godzilla. The human element was just completely boring after Bryan Cranston's scenes and Godzilla just felt like a big CGI monster with no character, we get a few little moments towards the end where we see his eyes but it was just too little too late. I know it might be silly to say that a CGI creation lacks character but when 9 years ago you had King Kong directed by Peter Jackson and the big CGI monster was the most emotional part of the film, that argument is invalid.
Another disappointing aspect of this film is that there just isn't enough Godzilla, we are teased throughout and all the things we actually want to see are in the last 30 minutes of the movie. People didn't pay to see a soldier find his family in a natural disaster, they paid to see Godzilla punch monsters in the face! We do eventually get that but it takes too long.
People still have Pacific Rim in their memory from last year where the big epic fights take center stage because it knew that's what people come to see. It wasn't afraid to have fun with the fact that its main pull is big creatures wailing on each other. But Godzilla seems to shy away from that fact throughout the majority of the run rime, that is until the last act where it acknowledges where its best. If you're going to make human story front and center then at least make it interesting. In the first act we have Bryan Cranston and his story is very good, his wife died in an accident at a power plant and he has been trying to find out what happened, but as soon as that arc is over, the plot becomes very generic and uninteresting.
We find out that a creature called M.U.T.O is responsible for all this destruction and that Godzilla must kill this monster to bring back the balance. Godzilla is basically nature fighting back, and this is so cool! Because Godzilla is a force of nature, he is the equalizing force. And that aspect of his character was remarkably well done. Godzilla is basically hunting these monsters down so he can go back to his peaceful home in the ocean and sleep.
The film makers were adamant on making us love Ford (Aaron Taylor Johnson) but every other character in the movie is more interesting. If they had made Cranston the lead and made the story about Joe (Cranston) and Ford (Johnson) as father and son surviving this disaster, the movie would have been so much better. The film focuses more on this uninteresting soldier than the character people come to see, Godzilla!
My only other gripe with the film is that everything that happens is just completely convenient to the plot. Godzilla dodges a ship with our main characters in it but then doesn't have issue swimming right through three other useless ships. Ford Brody is the only bomb disposal expert in the army (apparently) and he seems to be everywhere in the world where the monsters are. And he and his father get to a location just at the right time because that's when the monster decides to wake up. And my main issue with all this convenience is that the humans claim they need to awaken Godzilla so he can stop his monster, but then in the next scene Godzilla just decides after nearly 60 years that now he'll show up to kill these monsters without the humans even having to wake him. So some earlier scenes just felt irrelevant.
Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizbeth Olsen play husband and wife and they only get a couple of scenes together which was a shame because I felt like they had great chemistry and we'll get to see that again next year where they play brother and sister in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035).
Ken Watanabe (Inception) plays the main scientist character in the film and he is the one begging the government to let Godzilla kill these monsters instead of them nuking a city. Watanabe is my favorite Asian actor and I thought he was good in this, he is what I like to call "Exposition Man" in this movie, where they tell us everything we need to know about the plot throughout the film. And he's good at that because he has a very powerful voice but all he does throughout is seem to stare off in the distance and make a bold statement.
None of the actors are given much to do except Cranston but again, all his interesting story is in the first act of the film. They could have had Cranston and Watanabe help each other discover how to defeat these monsters because they were both scientists researching these disasters.
It may seem like I've been slamming the movie but it isn't bad, its actually a very enjoyable and good film but all the things that I've detailed above hold it back from being a great film. The movie does pick up in the last act and give us some really great monster on monster fights. But if they spread the action evenly throughout the film it would have been paced better, the movie was quite slow moving and then in the last act it picks up and its ACTION ACTION ACTION! But if they placed fights evenly throughout the film it would have flowed better.
I definitely do recommend you go and see Godzilla because it is a lot of fun, I'm going to go and see it a second time and my opinion may change and if it does I will be sure to write another review. For now though, the film did please me in some sections but for majority I just wanted to see more action and more Godzilla because this is a Godzilla movie! Apparently a sequel has just been announced because it did make a shit tonne of money on its opening weekend. The ending sets it up perfectly for a sequel, it doesn't hint towards a sequel but it leaves it open, but with a character like Godzilla what can you really do in a sequel other than more of the same. Hopefully the film makers listen to people's problems with the film and make the sequel with Godzilla in the forefront and not a boring soldier.
I almost forgot about Gareth Edwards....oops. Yes the director for this film, Gareth Edwards did a fantastic job, the camera work is top notch and it feels like you're there in the destruction and it did immerse me in this world. He films the action perfectly and at no point was I struggling to see what was happening. I wouldn't have an issue if they brought him back for the sequel, I just hope they make the right choice and feature Godzilla properly next time.
When the movie is on Godzilla, its almost perfect, but because these moments are few and far apart, the rest of the film drags it down. In the fights some really cool things happen, at parts I did cheer because Godzilla is such a bad ass. And when Godzilla roared, my heart stopped because the sound design was absolutely incredible.
This movie is a lot better than most of the Godzilla movies we've had. It's fun, its visually breathtaking but the story and characters were lacking. The movie does a lot right but things wrong as well, I did thoroughly enjoy the film but I didn't walk out with my jaw on the floor. I'm going to give Godzilla a B!