Director: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Toho Co., Ltd., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Legendary Pictures
Review by Bryan Mero
Yes! We can finally get the bad taste out of our mouth from Godzilla (1998). Walking into the theater with my two sons (18yo and 15yo) we were all excited for a new Godzilla, especially set in the background of our own backyard of San Francisco. The line of people wanting to see the sneak preview was around the building. The marketing for Godzilla has been brilliant. Previews with a trail of destruction on a huge scale and the new Godzilla roar teased us with an epic edge of destruction movie. From a personal standpoint, after watching all the trailers, I think the trailers will bring people to the theater but will also be part of the possible disappointment. More on that laterÖ
We start in 1999. Thereís been a mining accident in the Philippines. Equipment and forty men fell into a huge empty chasm. Inside they find the remains of a giant creature and some egg pods. One creature has apparently dug its way out and one more is still intact. This is where we meet Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who has been studying these giant creatures for years. We quickly switch to the Brody family, who are working at a Japanese nuclear power plant. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is a nuclear physicist that is concerned over recent seismic signals that are getting stronger. He sends his wife (Juliette Binoche) to check the lower depths of the plant for structural damage due to the tremors. It doesnít take long before the plant is destroyed. Joe and his son Ford are survivors of the Ďaccident.í
15 years later Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is coming home after a lengthy military tour to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and his son. But before he can spend his first night at home he gets a call from Japan saying his father has been arrested for trespassing in the quarantined zone around the fallen power plant. Ford flies to Japan to bail out his father and suddenly becomes apart of his quest to find out what really happened that day 15 years ago.
If that seems like an unusually long setup for a reviewÖitís because itís a very long setup for the movie. Itís takes about an hour or so before you get your first glimpse of Godzilla. When you finally get the chance to see them fight, the camera is turned away, a door is closed or we switch to the action on a cable news network. I could hear a collective groan in the theater when this happened each time.
For what the actors were given as the script they did as best as they could. Bryan Cranston plays his character over the top but we donít see enough of him throughout the film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is left to carry the film and is either the luckiest or unluckiest person on the planet as destruction follows him where ever he goes. As a trained bomb expert he is able to parlay is military affiliation to get back home and be apart of the final battle.
Now letís talk about the good stuff. Godzilla is massive. This is the biggest Godzilla ever to be imagined for the big screen. Heís big, bad and kicking butt! As with most traditional Godzilla films, thereís another creature for him to fight. In this case itís MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). This multi-legged flying creature is definitely a good opponent for the big G. When they finally get to go toe-to-toe against each other itís the biggest cage match in history. Everyone takes their lumps including the good people of San Francisco and the military. The special affects for the final fight is amazing. Godzilla is a living, breathing animal and not just a big mindless monster. Heís the Godzilla weíve grown up with. Heís the last samurai.
Weíve had a small sample of monster movies in the past few years. Cloverfield (2008) and Pacific Rim (2013) paved the way for a new Godzilla film. In this case, those are really the only two I can compare this movie to. There are definitely influences from Cloverfield including creature design of the MUTO and some of the POV action from the humans on the ground. Pacific Rim showed us that creating giant creatures on screen is possible without looking fake or cheesy. Godzilla (2014) tries to use these aspects but fails mostly in the story itself. I cared for the characters more in Cloverfield and the creatures and mechs from Pacific Rim were much better and scarier.
It all comes down to what youíre expecting out of the movie. Are you looking for an epic battle between Godzilla and his opponent? Godzilla (2014) delivers, even if itís not until the very end. Are you looking for a cohesive story? Go somewhere else. All sense and sensibility flies out the window in this movie. Itís all about the visuals. For me it comes down to mixed feelings. I was glad to see Godzilla remade into something modern using CGI. His enormity was awesome but he was not given enough screen time. With the addition of Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe and Juliette Binoche I was expecting a much deeper script that gave us character development, unfortunately that was very lacking. As I said at the beginning of the review, the trailers gave more emotion in those 2 minutes than I felt in the entire movie.
For Godzilla fansÖgo! Go this weekend and then see it a second time the next week. Show the studios that we want to see this type of movie more often even if this one was a little thin on script and actual monster footage. Otherwise it will be viewed as a huge failure. Both my sonís definitely wanted to see it again, which is good but definitely left us with a split decision on how much we liked it.
For the non-Godzilla fan, your reaction may be similar to Pacific Rim (2013), light on story and heavy on monster fighting action. If this isnít your cup of tea, you may want to wait until itís available to rent or watch on cable.
Overall, this is not going to win any awards for writing. This is a Godzilla movie, it says so right in the title. So thereís no surprise as to how the movie builds up to the final battle. This has been the formula for Godzilla movies for years. I say Ďsee ití but go for the monster fighting action and not for a strong story.