Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Godzilla (2014)

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, CJ Adams, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston

Author

I have been waiting for something to erase Roland Emmerich’s horrendous 1998 movie from my head, and we finally have something good. This is what Emmerich’s movie should have been.

This is a good monster movie. Edwards delivers some truly beautiful visuals and shows some skill with pacing and suspense. He also shows the proper restraint with editing and military bravado, things that Emmerich and Michael Bay have proven to be incapable of doing in similar films.

The monster battles are beautifully shot, well-choreographed, and realistic. Sound effects complement the action nicely. I just wish there was a bit more of this action, as one battle sequence just isn’t enough for a monster movie. There’s one moment when shelter doors close and obscure a monster fight just as it’s getting started that’s particularly annoying. We’d been waiting a long time for the monsters to confront each other, and the moment they finally do, we can’t watch? Not nice. Give us some good action first, and maybe then you can tease us with creative shots.

This Godzilla design is faithful to the Toho original with nice updates, not the CGI iguana monstrosity in the 1998 film. A few nice nods to the original movies, including Godzilla’s roar (also nicely updated), some of Mothra’s vocalizations, monsters crashing into buildings, and the requisite train/monorail shot. Interesting, though, that the MUTOs were ever called Mothra. Why not?

Cranston lends the movie some credibility but dies disappointingly early. The trailers made it seem like this is a Cranston movie, but it’s really not. And when he’s gone, we’re left with an assortment of flat performances and reaction shots. I wish there was another star, or at least a familiar face, to carry the rest of the movie. Taylor-Johnson is a poor man’s Channing Tatum (I would have preferred Tatum in the role), and Olsen’s OK as the wife, but both are unremarkable. Watanabe, a respected actor, is reduced to a man who looks like he is trying to take a massive shit for the entire movie. Are performances in monster movies supposed to be flat so that we focus more on the monsters than humans? Are characters kept simple to more easily market the movie overseas? Or is this just lazy writing?

A minor plot question… Why would the MUTO have evolved to have EMP capabilities? What evolutionary advantage does that provide? It doesn’t seem to be a defense against Godzilla, as Godzilla’s power and breath seem to be radioactive. Perhaps as a defense to other, still to be revealed monsters?

This is good sequel material.

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