Godzilla (2014) movie review
This is it, the big one, the movie millions of people have been waiting for: the return of The King of the Monsters to the big screen. Does it deliver a viewing experience worthy of Godzilla? When he is on screen, yes.
By the way, SPOILERS ahead. I won't spoil the finale of the film, but there will be spoilers otherwise.
We start the movie with an opening credits sequence showing the military trying to kill Godzilla in the 1950's with nukes, because, the military. Cut to 1999, and Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) discovers 2 giant cocoons and a fossilized monster on an island. The cocoons are completely radioactive, with one of them open and a giant path leading to the ocean from it. Meanwhile in Japan, we meet Joe Brody (Brian Cranston), his wife Sandra, and his little boy, Ford. Joe works at a nearby nuclear power plant. Sudden quakes go off and make machines holding the nuclear gas break. As a result, Sandra loses her life.
Fifteen years later, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is married to Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and they have a little boy named Sam. Ford has just come back from a tour with the military as a bomb expert. That very same night, they receive a phone call that Joe has been arrested for trespassing in the nuclear fallout zone, where there old home is. Ford goes to get Joe, and Joe tells him that he knows something that wasn't natural happened the day of Sandra's death. So, they break into the fallout zone again to grab files from their home, which they get, and are arrested again. They are brought to the science lab in the zone, because....the plot progresses!!! Dr. Serizawa is at this location as well, and discovers that Joe's files require interesting information involving, the nuclear cocoon that they found 15 years ago that was moved to this lab. It just so happens that now, the cocoon is ready to hatch! And M.U.T.O. is born! It sends out a signal, and destroys the lab and takes t the air escapes. In the attack, lets just say we don't see Joe for the rest of the movie.
M.U.T.O.'s signal is heard by an unintended source, one that the military is fully aware of knows is coming, Godzilla! We learn that Dr. Serizawa's discovery was a result of the nuclear fallout from trying to kill Godzilla, that he describes, is an ancient being from a time when the earth was covered in radiation and Godzilla would absorb it.....what? So now Godzilla is on his way to kill M.U.T.O. Meanwhile in Nevada, where the creature from the open cocoon has escaped and cocooned at, has opened as well and tramples Las Vegas. Due to the differences in looks between these 2 M.U.T.O.s, it is deduced that 1 is a male, and 1 is a female. Also, the M.U.T.O.s feed on radiation, so they attack any military vehicle with nukes on them, which there are apparently a lot of, and are willing to keep throwing at the M.U.T.O.s. The 2 M.U.T.O.s are trying to converge in California after the male escapes Godzilla in Hawaii. So The race is on! Can the military figure out a way to stop the M.U.T.O.s from breeding, or will they sit back and let Godzilla slay the 2 monstrosities as "nature intends?"
You may notice that that description, that Godzilla was hardly in it, that's because he is hardly in this movie. Yes, it is weird and it is the movie's biggest flaw, and unfortunately, it can be movie breaking. You don't see Godzilla till roughly an hour in the movie, yes, a full Godzilla-less hour in a movie called "Godzilla." Then, the biggest slap of all, until the final fight of the movie, every time Godzilla shows up for a fight, the movie jumps to the aftermath and avoids the fight completely. WHAT?! WHAAAAAT?! Mr. Director Gareth Edwards, people pay money to see Godzilla fight monsters in a Godzilla movie. And you do give us one full fight, sort of, I mean the film does cut to Ford and Elle during it. But, to cut to the aftermath of several fights and not show them to us, just to show more human drama with people we don't care about or expendable military instead? That is LITERALLY the one major thing you could do to mess up a Godzilla movie, and it is done several times. It really is frustrating, and could ruin the movie for some people. As far as complaints I've had for movies, this is one of my worst complaints.
Plus, you may notice some of the plot points for this film....are a bit ridiculous. From Godzilla being an ancient being from many years ago, to the military being so stupid as to just keep firing at the M.U.T.O.s when nothing they do works. Or even better, they keep firing at Godzilla. Not only does it do nothing, but Dr. Serizawa even tells the military that Godzilla has most likely come to kill the M.U.T.O.s, yet they do what I like to call: "Movie Military Intelligence." This is no reflection on our real military, I'm only talking about examples of fictitious militaries in different movies. Like, in this movie, the military just constantly prepares nukes and keeps firing everything at these monsters, to no avail, and they even help the M.U.T.O.s by feeding them! It just comes off as silly.
However, the silliness in the plot, can be defended. This movie is supposed to be a modern remake of the classic Japanese Godzilla films, and anyone that has seen those movies knows, classic Godzilla movies are ridiculously silly. So really, the silliness doesn't upset me much, knowing what they are going for. So, if you hate those movies, well, why did you go see this?
The acting, is also pretty decent. Cranston is the standout as always, and he soaks up his role and delivers and pretty strong performance, for the 25 minutes he is in the movie. Taylor-Johnson does ok as our lead human hero, even if it cuts to him far too much. He is a little dull, but he carries weight as the lead and he certainly can play a serious action movie hero. He gets respect points for it. Watanabe does ok as the Doctor, even if he feels like he is kind of just there, never really gets a lot of depth, but it's fine, the humans shouldn't be the focus of a GODZILLA FILM. Elizabeth Olsen as Elle...is fine..but who cares? The rest of the supporting cast is fine, there certainly isn't any goofy negatives like in the 1998 Godzilla film.
Like I said, the human cast should not be the focus of a Godzilla movie, they should be there to support the big guy. The M.U.T.O.'s are pretty cool looking for original ideas, even if they look like the Cloverfield monster. Their designs are cool and they certainly are threatening and a challenge for Godzilla to fight the few times that he does. It just adds up how frustrating it is that Godzilla is a guest star in his own movie.
However, all negatives aside, all complaints placed away, when Godzilla is on screen, or even pieces of him are, it is awe-inspiring. These scenes with Godzilla drop my jaw and lead to a lot of exciting moments, some of my favorites in movie history. When he is on screen with the M.U.T.O.s, you think, "There it is, this is the movie I wanted to see!" Then when they cut the fight and skip to the aftermath, it's like "No! Go back to the movie I paid to see!" The other parts of the movie are fine, but you don't want Godzilla to go off screen, because it is ten times more exciting than anything else and actor could come up with. It is worth the price of admission just to see Godzilla in all of his glory.
Overall, Godzilla is technically a good movie. It is a decent monster flick, but takes a risky approach by not showing the star monster for a majority of the movie. This excels in a film like "Jaws" because the focus was on the humans fighting this shark, the humans were supposed to be focus, and the movie wasn't named after the shark. That's why Jaws is on of the best movies ever. Godzilla is literally named after the legendary beast and we only see him for like, a total of 20 minutes. The movie surrounding that certainly isn't bad, it's actually pretty good, you just want more Godzilla in a Godzilla movie. God forbid. It is a lot like classic Godzilla movies, with the only difference being the lack of monster. If you can get past that, Godzilla is a fun monster movie romp with fantastic scenes featuring the King of the Monsters, with another movie around them. It's worth watching just to see Godzilla, and I recommend doing so.
Mr. Director Gareth Edwards, you had ONE job. Show the monster a lot, and you couldn't do that. If you can't ever change that, stay away from this franchise, please.
I give Godzilla, 3.5 epic roars out of 5
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