“We call him… Godzilla.”
(This review contains spoilers.)
In the buildup to Godzilla, I was worried about three things. Three things that tend to plague most giant monster/Kaiju/robot flicks of recent memory. I was only subtlety worried about the first one – the Cloverfield ‘feel’. I was worried we’d only get short glimpses of the monster, with shaky camera footage. Didn’t happen, but that was expected. The second thing I worried about finding in the film were action scenes or fight sequences with so much going on at once (ie. Transformers) it becomes muddled, blurry, and hard to see who’s who and what’s what. You won’t have this issue with the film in the slightest. When they want you to see the monsters, you will see the monsters. And the third thing, the issue I most had with last year’s Pacific Rim, was that the human characters just wouldn’t be compelling enough to carry emotional interest. Godzilla, by Gareth Edwards, excels and overcomes each of these three issues I had with movies past – movies that helped paved the way for this film.
And yet, the biggest thing critics tend to gripe about was the fact that they didn’t show Godzilla enough, that they built up the characters so well they left little room for the monster. I disagree entirely. Godzilla films in the past have almost always been more about the struggle of the individual humans who’s lives are directly affected than the titular Kaiju himself. Staying true to the formula norm, he didn’t actually show up until halfway through the film. Which was completely fine by me. I thought the characters they built up were strong and compelling, and able to carry their share of the weight of the movie. Bryan Cranston’s character (however necessary as a background to Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s ‘Ford’) was ultimately a waste of time in the eyes of many critics. I disagree though, because it helped set the entire stage to the film.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson did an excellent job bringing the film down a scale with his tumultuous journey to get back to his family in San Francisco from Japan. He’s married to Elizabeth Olsen, which is very strange as they are set to be brother and sister in Avengers: Age of Ultron next year. I really liked the use of geography, and how they could chart the path of the Kaiju from Japan, to Hawaii, and across the Pacific into California. [And it made sense.]
The MUTOs (pronounced mootos), or massive unidentified terrestrial objects, were an excellent first villain for Godzilla. I say first, because there’s most certainly an unconfirmed sequel in the works (we just don’t officially know it yet, but we all want to believe it). They were just alien enough to be absolutely terrifying, yet animal-like enough in behavior so that we could understand their drive to feed and procreate. I don’t quite understand how their race feeds off nuclear waste. I might be an idiot, but I’m pretty sure that’s a really dumb thing to feed off of. Anyway. It made killing the MUTOs a living hell. There was really only one way to defeat them.
Yep. Godzilla saved the world. Not only does he pull out some of his best moves against the MUTOs, but he even pulled out his signature atomic breath. If the audience in the theatre clapped for anything it was the beautiful scenes of him and his blue laser beam breath blasting the Kaiju to little bits. Watching the scales on his back light up one by one was truly spectacularly done, and something most fans were eagerly waiting for. By the end of the movie he so rightly earns himself the title “King of the Monsters”.
One of the best filmic qualities Godzilla has to offer is, oddly, minimalism. Minimalism in the sense that, naturally, if everything in the city is turning to rubble, the smoke would be blinding. And throughout the carnage, it’s the brief, beautiful, silhouette-esque glimpses we catch of the monsters that take our breath away most often. That through-the-fog look set this film apart from the everywhere and anywhere look of Transformers. As this is the first film Gareth Edwards has ever directed, I have to give the guy credit. He pulled this off wonderfully.
The reason Godzilla of 1998 fell so flatly with Godzilla fans is that it just wasn’t “Godzilla”. It was a completely different monster altogether. This film forgets everything there was to forget about that much maligned Matthew Broderick-injected attempt, and takes it back to the TOHO source material. Fans will appreciate this movie to bits. There’s even a scene where they show an empty fishtank in an abandoned home with label tape on its side that reads “Mothra”. Yeah. A fan can dream. Overall this was an excellent film. This gets my stamp of approval, as both a critic and as a fan.
10 thoughts on “Godzilla (MOVIE REVIEW)”
Nice review, glad to see Godzilla back to fighting the monsters.
Dude, holy hell, your reviews are amazing! Seriously, I can’t commend you enough on that! I agree with you on pretty much every point you made in your X-Men: Days of Future Past review. In this Godzilla one, though, I’m not as in sync. I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not actually a Godzilla fan, so my opinion probably doesn’t count for much in this case but I’m gonna have to agree with MANOFYESTERDAY’S friends on this one.
Okay, here are my thoughts, and I’ll start off with the good: the acting in this movie was really great all around. I totally agree with you on the necessity of Bryan Cranston’s character; he, for me, was the best of the lot. Aaron Taylor-Johnson also did a really great job, as did Elizabeth Olsen (which really surprised me because I’d never seen her act before). But THANK YOU for clarifying that brother-sister Avengers role for me. I went to see Godzilla with a friend of mine right after we’d gotten done seeing X-Men: DoFP, and during Godzilla I actually turned to him and asked, “But, isn’t he supposed to be playing Quicksilver in something soon?” because Evan Peters’ Quicksilver had made such an impression on us. My friend didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, but I was convinced that I’d seen Aaron Taylor-Johnson recently in a Quicksilver costume and wig. To make matters worse, I kept remembering Elizabeth Olsen being with him in the pictures. I swear, I literally thought that I was losing my mind because I’d been confusing the two movies. So, thank you for making me feel a bit saner again. Another good point of Godzilla was the special effects… no complaints from me on that point.
Now, for the bad: this movie, despite its good acting, really was only mediocre at best. Now, again, remember that I’m not a follower of Godzilla, so my opinion is probably harsher than should be. However, this storyline was as basic as it comes. There was no real depth to it – with the possible exception of Bryan Cranston’s eternal mourning of his wife – and, honestly, that whole aliens-mating-but-nature-restoring-balance plot that they were going for was so tedious. I swear, you could find pretty much the same concept in almost any show on Nat Geo or Animal Planet, and the writers knew it, which is why they tried their hardest to spice it up with lots of noise, explosions and bright lights. My friend, who was the one who’d been dying to see the movie for weeks, fell asleep about half a dozen times, and I had to keep waking him up throughout. All that being said, I still wouldn’t discriminate against a sequel, provided that the plot is actually intriguing this time around.
Well I want to thank you for the high praise. I’m glad people read my reviews let alone enjoy them. So thanks. And yes, happy to clear up your sanity. Your opinion isn’t totally unfounded. A lot of people had that issue. But to make the monster(s) realistic and feasible enough to be more than just a threat to humanity is a big part of the movie. If the film was merely about monsters attacking a city for no reason whatsoever you’d have to raise your level of suspension of disbelief dramatically so. Which is why I didn’t mind the animal instinct aspect of the film. It’s realistic and gave the plot a way to go. And as always, Godzilla films have much more to do with the individual actors surviving than giving the titular monster screen time. So it makes sense for humans to explain the creatures actions away in a way that’s understandable and relatable than to dwell on something unrealistically complex.
Again, thanks for reading my review. I totally understand your opinion though.
Reblogged this on Seanlessstressed's Blog.
I’ll wait until after I see the film today to read your whole review because I don’t want to know any details before seeing it. I did read enough to know you liked it and that’s cool. I am very much looking forward to seeing it.
I saw it last night and am about to write my review. I happened to like it as well but I think we’re going to be in the minority. The two people I went with thought it was terrible. I disagree with you about the human characters though, I thought only Cranston’s was compelling, but I did enjoy it and ultimately there was enough Godzilla for me.
Man that’s so weird. What was their reasoning? Are they fans of the series at all? Or just moviegoers?
One of them likes the same sort of stuff as I do, he just thought it was boring and the story made no sense. The other thought the movie looked cool from the trailers so that’s why she wanted to see it. They both had the same criticisms though.
Good review. I agree with your points on the film almost completely. Great set up for another film by not over-killing Godzilla’s screen time while still showing him plenty enough to wet one’s Godzilla whistle. When Godzilla killed that second monster the way he did, I cheered. Cool, man. Cool as all heck. This was Godzilla, like you said, and not the imitator who appeared in that ’98 film. Good flick, and a good review.
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Thanks! Hoping more people agree with me than not. I really liked this film and don’t want to see it get swept under the rug.