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Now Presenting: A Review of Godzilla (2014)

Note: This review was written May 17th, 2014.

    Godzilla is an American 2014 science fiction monster film, and acts as a reboot for the franchise of the same name. The movie is the first stab that America has made at Godzilla since the 1998 movie that was, well, … not very good. That’s sixteen years ago, …  TriStar originally wanted to make a trilogy after the ’98 movie, but because reception was so low and the little enthusiasm for a sequel, they let the franchise sit on the shelf until 2003 when their rights expired.

However, through strong marketing and a known cast, this new rendition of the enormous lizard seems to have gotten people’s attention once again!

And so now, let’s take a look at Godzilla.

The flick is directed by Gareth Edwards, whose resume is limited to the 2010 film, Monster, a very underrated science-fiction film that did a lot with a very small budget. The movie stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, and Strathairn.I have never really been that big into Godzilla films. I never really had the interest to go out and rent a couple of movies, and nobody ever dropped a couple of the Japanese films in my lap. However, I approached Godzilla with a lot of excitement. I wasn’t as excited for it as I was for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which came out weeks after, or X-Men: Days of Future Past which came out a week after, but I was looking forward to the film. I enjoy Gareth Edwards’ direction, I enjoy the cast, and was especially excited to see Bryan Cranston sink his teeth into something new. I heard really positive reviews going in, and I was just really thrilled about getting to see a good monster movie which has often proven to be rare.

The tale begins in 1990 when scientists Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham find out about the discovery of an enormous skeletons beneath the ground, as well as two egg-shaped pods. Eventually, somethings goes awry and one of the eggs actually hatches and a Nuclear Plant in Tokyo suffers an explosion and a radiation leak. The Plant supervisor Joe Brody, played by Bryan Cranston, loses his wife and never really recovers from the trauma that it caused. The event is covered up as an earthquake and Janjira is evacuated before other-wise being quarantined.

It skips on ahead fifteen years later, and now, the son of Joe and Sandra Brody is all grown up, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson goes and takes the reigns as the lead character in the film. He has since become an explosive ordinance disposal officer in the United States Navy, living in San Francisco with his wife Elle, who is played by Elizabeth Olsen, and his son Sam, played by Carson Bolde. Meanwhile, his father has spent the last fifteen years being absolutely obsessed with what killed his wife. I think that we can all basically see where this leads from here, with Godzilla and friends wreaking havoc across the city, destroying all the things that a one-hundred and sixty-dollar budget can buy.

The budget of this movie certainly went to good use. The action-scenes were consistently the most entertaining aspect of the film.

It’s disheartening for me to say, but I didn’t really like this movie.

After leaving the theater, I remember talking with my friends, one of them said that he was certainly “whelmed,” by the movie, and the other recounted how many times he wished it was “just over”.

Those have to be some of the meanest insults that you can give about a movie, and honestly, I can’t really find it in myself to disagree.

The first twenty or so minutes of the movie actually had me invested. It wasn’t everybody else as much as it was Bryan Cranston. He put so much heart into his performance that it actually felt out-of-place and disproportionate to the rest of the film. He actually had me immersed with some of dialogue. I believed his grievances about his wife. Cranston was the only actor throughout the entire movie that made me care. The moment the film shifted away to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the human-aspect of the movie never found its footing again. I don’t know whether it was bad writing or bad acting, but all of the characters from that point on felt so boring.

Elizabeth Olsen was there to cry and scream. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was there to be the bland military-man. And Ken Watanabe was there to say, “GAHZILLRAH.”

None of them are bad actors, so, it’s seem too me that they were written into, what one of my friends articulately described as, a “generic army movie”.

The movie felt dry and desolate in its storytelling. It didn’t have any of the wit or charm to coexist with the outlandish, and it didn’t have the depth in the characters to completely play it straight.

I said it earlier that the special-effects were top-notch, and they were. I thought that the movie looked absolutely amazing, and I wanted more than what I was given. Every time that it had the monsters fight and I was interested again, and then, five seconds later, they went back to the human-characters. The movie certainly felt like it was trying to build suspense. It took a long, long time before we actually got to see any of the monsters.

I wanted to see them. And even when we saw them, we didn’t see very much.

It was back to building suspense.

Dr. Serizawa’s character felt like he was fighting for the same thing that I wanted as a viewer. He would yell to the heavens that Godzilla is meant to restore balance and that the military should “Let them fight.”

Except they never really did.

I feel like there was all this build toward something, and it never actually happened. Or at least, it wasn’t to the magnitude that it needed to be for all the suspense that it was trying to instill and for all of the stalling.

In conclusion, I went into this movie wanting to love it. I really did, and I just didn’t. I couldn’t get invested in the characters, and while I felt like the story had ambition, they just didn’t handle it well. And while the effects and cinematography were absolutely amazing, I wanted more from our title-character.

Placement on The List: The Bads

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