Godzilla (2014) Review

Posted: May 22, 2014 by pecknt in Peck Reviews

exclusive-godzilla-imax-poster-roars-in-161413-a-1398259793-470-75Mirage. A mirage is a visual phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce or display images or objects. Like a dehydrated man in the desert, hopeful for the nearest sign of water, movie audiences seek out the next big movie. One could outstretch this idea to the concept of movie trailers, and the experience we have with them.  Unfortunately, just like that mirage that can fool a man, audiences leach on to great trailers in hopes the movie will present that same quality. Insert Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, which was directed in 1998.  This film provided one Hell of a trailer, as well as a marketing scheme that gathered much attention. It presented creativity, fascination, and provoked excitement. All these went absent with the finished product; an orchestrated mess on how not to do a blockbuster. Now we fast forward to present day with Gareth Edward’s take on Godzilla. The trailers, like the previous installment, provided thrills and cheers.  However, would it follow the same suit and ultimately suck?

The film opens in 1999 with two scientists, Ishiro Serizawa and Viviene Graham (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins), being called to a quarry in the Philippines. The quarry provides colossal skeletons, and egg pods, revealing an opening where something could have escaped the quarry.  Shortly after learning this, in Japan, a Nuclear Power Plant is attacked.  The Power Plant’s supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) unfortunately loses his wife in the attack.  The event results in a full quarantine of the area and the loss of sanity for Joe.  Fifteen years later, the story is then focused on Brody’s son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), an explosive ordnance disposal officer in the United States Navy, also portrayed as a husband and a father.  Ford, who is reluctant to help his recluse Dad, decides to go to Japan to investigate the area. Unfortunately, both are captured by a corporation bent on stopping the MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism).  With humanity being unable to stop the powerful MUTOs, they are desperate for help and get it in the form of the massive GODZILLA.

Fascinatingly enough, Godzilla focuses on its characters much more than the monster itself. It feels with this focus that the film’s director, Gareth Edwards and film’s writer, Max Borenstein, understood the need for trying to attach the film’s audience to the characters. Without character attachment, we do not care what happens during these monster invasions, or even monster battles. Fortunately, with enough character conviction, albeit erratic at times, we do care enough for what happens with our characters, primarily Joe Brody.  Joe Brody provides the film’s most emotional story arc of the entire film. This is perhaps more telling of Bryan Cranston’s incredible acting more so than the writing.  That being said, we are immediately involved and attached to Brody’s journey to investigating his wife’s death.  The same cannot be said for Taylor-Johnson’s portrayal of Ford.  His character plays as the film’s, ‘been there, done that’ guy.  You know that guy who always has a colorful story for doing everything, no matter how inconceivable it really is?  That, and Taylor-Johnson, perhaps the film’s true weakness, is that he lacks any true grit, that the film, a film of this magnitude needs. Watanabe’s Ishirio is the film’s trailer quote guy, as everything he says, undeniably cool, is definitely aimed at trailer ‘porn’.  However, his confidence in the role is notable, and he makes for one of the more enjoyable characters in the film.

Almost 600 words in and I have barely talked about the big guy, but what about him? The 1998 film that I grew up with made the mistake of being Godzilla focused.  What I mean is that almost every shot felt the need to show him (or actually her), and this quickly made for a tiresome film.  Godzilla in this film takes his time appearing, actually almost 90 minutes before you even see him, and even then, the first few shots of him are more or less teasers.  Fear not, as he appears for a large part of the last 30 minutes of the film, and does he ever!  This is the best representation of Godzilla, both visually, sound, and all around general awesomeness. Godzilla is absolutely huge, and powerful.  Fight sequences with him are well shot, and executed with perfection that was absent from films like Transformers, or perhaps even Pacific Rim.  The action is shot tight, but allows for enough space for you to take in the battle, and the absolute awe they create.  Buildings crumble with a ferocious intensity, that pounds the surround soun,d as Godzilla drags the MUTOs through his powerful wake.  These action sequences are unlike anything I have ever seen, and to this date, are perhaps the most impressive I have ever seen on the big screen.

The unexpected theme of Godzilla was the challenge that the monster presented in an ideological way.  Is Godzilla a hero?  Is Godzilla a monster?  The film quickly presents one notion, and back pedals towards another.  However, I found this to be my favorite part of the film.  Godzilla is Mother Earth’s way of balancing nature by being its protector, not the protector of humanity.   This, unfortunately, means the end to countless lives, but saves that many more.  This fascinating concept is underlined while most of the action and human characters play the headlines.  Regardless of your present and future thoughts of the character’s motives, there is no doubt you will be rooting for him to kick some “tail”.  I found myself cheering all the while my cheers were drowned out by the sounds of many others doing the same thing.

Godzilla is the monster movie we have long been clamoring for.  It is everything Pacific Rim was, and more.  It is epic, awe inspiring and most of all, patient.  Yes, I used the word patient to describe an epic about fighting monsters.  The audiences walk into Godzilla expecting this film to be nothing but action, and instead find themselves waiting.  This wait is not the wait at a DMV or Doctor’s office.  This is a rollercoaster, slow and steady as it crawls up that steep hill that seems like a mile up.  Each click is a momentum shift in the film, and finally, you get to the point where there is no going back.  The film’s patience allows for characters to be built up, to be examined and to be cared for before being thrown into the play box for your toy monsters to battle. Rest assured, while you might not necessarily care for the characters at the end, you will be entertained, very entertained.

 

B

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. I have to say, this movie did its job for me. It was tense, exciting, and kept me interested for the longest time. The human characters could have been written better, but the cast was fine enough.

  2. reel411 says:

    sounds like summer fun. i will definitely check it out.

  3. Great review. I liked the film and thought the majority of the film was good, which is a nice change from the 98 version which was mostly bad.

    The visuals and tone worked really well but the characters where lifeless, except Cranston.

    Still bring on MechaGodzilla! :D

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