As we continue to roll through summer blockbusters, we encounter the newest, most dynamic version of Godzilla yet, directed by Gareth Edwards. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence, it stars Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston.
Godzilla follows the discovery of two dangerous monsters who threaten the Earth’s well-being, largely thanks to scientific arrogance. In order to restore Earth’s natural balance, the titular character reawakens to counter these forces, resulting in a destructive battle that captures the world’s attention.
6 out of 10
My 6/10 rating may seem low. Okay, it doesn’t seem low, it is low. But oh man, could this movie have been great. Like really great. When Godzilla was on the screen, boy was it amazing. Too bad he didn’t show up till halfway in. And even after his first appearance, he’s only in the movie for like 15-20 minutes the rest of the way through. Shouldn’t a movie called Godzilla have more… Godzilla? It sounds like a stupid reason to give a movie a 6/10, but that’s the reality of it. The rest of it just wasn’t good enough.
I can split this movie into three parts. Part 1: Boring. Part 2: Insanely boring. Part 3: Pretty badass. Part 1, also known as the part with Bryan Cranston, does not feature much action whatsoever. Fine, I guess it’s unfair of me to be expecting all 2 hours of this movie to be action. And there was a little bit with Bryan Cranston running around in an exploding nuclear factory. But come on, the first third of the film did not feature any giant green monster. I would have liked to see a little bit, to prevent me from getting antsy. Instead, I was irritated before the movie really got itself started. *SPOILER ALERT* On top of that, they just had to go and write off Cranston, who ultimately proved to be one of the better human characters in the movie. He was one of the primary reasons I came to see the movie! His death didn’t even have a noticeable effect on Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s character, Cranston’s son. Blatantly unnecessary.
Then there was part 2, aka the part with Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Aka, the boring part. Aka the part where nothing happens. I guess this section of the movie is supposed to detail Ford Brody’s (Johnson’s character) journey back home, with the obvious obstacle of the monsters in his path. But Brody is an insanely boring character to put it simply. He has no personality. Nothing he does is genuine. This isn’t a knock on Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s acting skills (okay, maybe it is a little), but the character has no reaction to anything that is going on around him. *SPOILER ALERT* Your dad just died, you’re away from your wife and child, and giant monsters are threatening your existence. Show some damn emotion.
On top of that, the entirety of part 2 was just build up. Build up, build up, build up. Build up. A whole lot of traveling, an unnecessary story line involving an Asian kid lost from his parents, and again, TOO LITTLE GODZILLA!!!! At least we actually got to see him. His introduction in the airport in Hawaii was pretty sick, so there is a silver lining.
I will admit that the last third is pretty great. Godzilla is a magnificent visual creation, and the final scene where he’s going at it with the other monsters is pretty stunning to watch. Great visual effects that are really entertaining to watch. My jaw literally dropped at the final sequence, where Godzilla… well, I won’t spoil anything. It’s just something you have to see for yourself.
Being completely honest, I was pretty disappointed in the end. The final third of the film couldn’t make up for the disappointing, boring, poorly paced beginning and middle. However, I will say that this is something you should watch in theaters (or a 70 inch, HD TV), if you’re going to watch it at all. Godzilla, both the monster and the movie (but mainly the monster), is a visual spectacle. Unfortunately, it’s pacing (and lack of Godzilla, if I haven’t already mentioned that) really screws it over in the end, which is why I’d say hold off on this one unless you’re a big ‘Zilla fan.
8 out of 10
Can I just start off by saying I was really sad by how little I got of Mr.Cranston/LBJ/Mr. White? He really gives every performance his all and I hate the fact that these sentences aren’t that much of a spoiler. Still, he has a lot of impact so I can be grateful. Now let’s dive in to Godzilla:
The first apocalyptic-monster film I ever saw was Cloverfield. It was a shaky-cam movie in which a giant monster takes a destructive stroll through New York City and it was also my first J.J. Abrams movie. I can’t quite say whether it still holds up but I remember it being very effective by using one very specific tool: there’s very little monster.
S’right. You heard me. Without spoiling too much, our friend/Japanese national treasure Godzilla (Who, in fact, inspired the movie mentioned above) clocks in about fifteen minutes in this flick. But, man, does he make all fifteen of those minutes count.
Still, I found the moments that were most effective in Godzilla were the human ones. The moments where you just put regular people in tense scenarios. Filmmakers tend to forget how much having genuinely endearing characters really helps. All I really needed besides that was a distant roar from the title character and few rumblings to get me hooked on a scene.
For instance, about 90% of the scenes where the monsters strike do not take place in a sprawling urban setting (Tempting as that may be) but instead take us to cramped vehicles where we just have all of the real panic to keep us interested. Making Godzilla a mysterious entity is also a cool decision as it makes his loud moments far more special.
Those loud moments, by the way, will most likely make up for all the closed-in scenes for those who didn’t care for them. For lack of any better phrasings: Godzilla kicks ass. He just does here. That’s all there is to say. I was somewhat thrown off by a decision made to elicit some support for him from the audience but I think it actually works upon evaluation.
I also did enjoy how they broke away from the usual “Godzilla attacks!” plot. I had mentally prepared myself for it but was pleasantly blindsided by some excellent monster vs. monster fights (Thank God for Toho!). I think this had a fair amount of people surprised (Especially the kid in front of me who exclaimed “THAT’S NOT GODZILLA!” upon seeing the first monster)/
All of that being said, the main characters are, well, monster movie main characters. There’s not a lot going on with the core cast and the actors aren’t given a heck of a lot of material to work with. Each one sucumbs to the general formula but that is to be expected with Godzilla. In fact, there are skips between the protagonists’ stories that do seem a bit long.
So, if you came to see Godzilla, you’re gonna see Godzilla. Just not all of the time. And, in this case, that’s the best way. It makes the climax stand out all the more once we see him do what Godzilla does best. And what he does isn’t very nice.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%