Monday, May 19, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Title: Godzilla (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe

There’s a bit of resurgence in giant monster movies as of late, a renaissance if you will. It all started with Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013), which was a huge winner in my book, it showed that Kaiju movies could be cool and bombastic and just plain awesome. My big worry after seeing Pacific Rim was how Gareth Edward’s Godzilla could top it. As far as I’m concerned, Pacific Rim set the bar pretty in the land of giant monster movies, so Godzilla would have to be a pretty freaking cool monster movie in order to beat Pacific Rim. So…did it? But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Getting back to Godzilla, just who the hell is this Gareth Edwards guy? Well, a while back Edwards directed a straight to dvd monster movie called Monsters (2010); a cool little alien invasion flick that showed that Mr. Edwards knew his way around a monster movie, he ‘got’ them, he understood them; to top things off, Monsters showed that Edwards could do a lot on a small budget. So, Hollywood decided to give Edwards his big break to show what he’s made of, the result is the Hollywood’s second attempt at getting Godzilla right. Did it work? Was it a good Godzilla movie?

In Godzilla a mining operation discovers a giant egg, which just so happens to be a Kaiju egg. The creatures inside are these moth like (actually more like roach like) creatures who fly around the city sucking up anything that’s radioactive, including nuclear power plants! This of course spells certain doom for many nuclear plants around the world. Fortunately, Godzilla has also awakened and has emerged from the ocean! Will Godzilla protect or destroy the world from these giant radioactive cockroaches?

First things first, the filmmakers behind this movie got Godzilla absolutely freaking perfect! Unlike Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (1998), which tried it’s very hardest to get away from the cheesier elements from the Japanese Godzilla films, Gareth Edward’s Godzilla actually embraced Godzilla exactly how he is depicted in the Japanese films, but with an added element of reality to it. This isn’t just a guy in a suit; nope, this is a gigantic, walking, stomping, atomic breathing King of All Monsters! So thanks go out to Gareth Edwards for giving us the Godzilla we always wanted, a Godzilla that I’m sure even the Japanese people can feel proud of and enjoy. On this film you will see everything you want to see in a Godzilla film, you will see Godzilla emerge from the ocean and go back into it, you will see him brawling with other giant monsters and he most certainly fires his atomic breath! So feel assured, if you’re a Godzilla fan, you will be pleased.

Aside from the awesomeness of Godzilla itself, the film has an amazing asset going for it, which I felt they could have exploited a bit more and that is actor Bryan Cranston, a solid actor if there ever was any. While he is in the movie, the movie flows perfectly well; the performances where believable and intense; unfortunately when he disappears half way through the film as does Juliette Binoche, things loose believability. You have two great actors and then you have them do a vanishing act to leave us with Aaron Taylor Johnson for the rest of the film? Not that I have anything against Aaron Taylor Johnson, but damn, Bryan Cranston could eat him for breakfast when it comes to acting! Why this cheap ass exchange? I would have found a way to keep Bryan Cranston on for the entire film!

The only real problem with this new Godzilla is the human side which felt clichéd and unconvincing. A good actor can make or break a film, and in this sense, this new Godzilla satisfied me only half way. Had they found a way to keep Bryan Cranston throughout the whole film, this movie would have gotten a perfect score from this reviewer, alas, we get clichéd characters and forced situations instead. For example, there’s this whole sequence in which Aaron Taylor Johnson has to save a little kid and you get the feeling that they did this simply to turn him into a hero; this sequence, while exciting, felt soooo forced and fake. Worse yet is that the kid disappears in a few seconds after he is saved, without a word or a thanks. It’s like you served your purpose in the plot kid, now scram! What the--? Characters weren’t well developed because one, you take away the good actors and leave us with the less experienced ones, and two, you have characters doing things simply to fulfill a character type or a purpose in the plot. It’s like, you’re hero, you’re the wife, you’re the soldier, you’re the scientist and you will do exactly what is expected of your archetype and that’s it. Ugh. My advice is next time, work on better human characters and the film should be better. Not that it’s an awful film acting wise, but characters felt like archetypes, not real people. I should add that this is a problem that many Japanese Godzilla films suffer from as well, a weak human side.

But aside from that, this movie rocked the house. Trust me when I say that whenever Godzilla is on, he is most certainly ON! Godzilla commands that screen whenever it appears! So much so that when he disappears you are left wanting more; which reminds me that what this movie needed more of was Godzilla! There’s this thing that Edward’s does in the film, he shows us Godzilla, teases us with this cool beast and then bam, the camera turns away! And you’re left wanting more Godzilla! Which is cool in my book, he kind of wets your appetite and the tortures ya by taking away what you want the most. I guess this technique was done on purpose, to keep us wanting more, to make us want a sequel; which by the way has just been approved! You will see Godzilla stomp the world again! You see, this Godzilla film made close to 100 million in one weekend alone! It’s a raging success! It is poised to make even more money than Pacific Rim did, but that’s to be expected because Godzilla is a brand name, and Pacific Rim was an original product. Still, if you ask me, if I had to compare this new Godzilla to Pacific Rim, I say Pacific Rim is still the superior of the two. It’s just more bombastic, bigger, more epic. But Godzilla is a damn fine Kaiju film, not a disappointment in the least and a cinematic experience not to be missed; go see Godzilla roar! It’s an experience!

Rating: 4 out of 5


teddy crescendo said...

I still think the ludicrously under-rated 1998 film is a better movie.

Franco Macabro said...

A lot of people hate it, I happen to think it's a fun monster movie. Had it been named something else, people would not hate it as much.


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