Godzilla (2014) — MOVIE REVIEW

Godzilla….oh what a movie that was. This movie left me scratching my head by the end of it. That isn’t because it was a bad movie by any means. But, it’s definitely a “what you see is what you get” kind of experience.

Let me start right out by saying that I am not a Godzilla fan. I saw the 1998 version as a kid, and I hated it then. Its funny because usually as a kid, you like pretty much any movie you watch. But then, you go back and watch some of your favorite childhood movies, and they definitely do not translate. Usually, they suck. But as a kid, I HATED the 1998 version. That kind of goes to show just how bad it was. But, in saying that, I don’t remember anything about it. It was extremely unmemorable. So I went into this movie with a fresh, blank mind when it comes to anything Godzilla-related. I had a general understanding that he just tears shit up. Other than that, I knew practically nothing.

That is one issue I had with this movie. That if you go into this movie, never having seen a single Godzilla movie, you might walk out really wondering what the hell the point was. Not a whole is explained about Godzilla and as far as story goes, it leaves a lot to be desired. But there is another side to that as well. You are going into a Godzilla movie. It is a monster/disaster movie. When has a monster movie ever been filled with an amazing story? Probably never. You should go in expecting destruction and some great visuals, and that’s what you get. My problem is that there isn’t much else to it, and that the visuals are the best part of the movie.

So, you pretty much know the general story. Godzilla is coming to tear some stuff up. But this time, he come to “restore balance” to the world when two other creatures are created. We see this from a human perspective. Mostly through the eyes of Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a military man who possesses the qualities of everyday folk like you and me. He is brought into the fold by his crazy-but-not-so-crazy father Joe (Bryan Cranston) who has been doing the research for more than 15 years. And when these two creatures are created, they wreak havoc and Godzilla comes in to take them on. Sounds pretty straightforward because it is.

The acting is there on all fronts. The standouts are definitely Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe. Those two do some terrific work, especially Cranston, who can just sell anything. This is where they make their first hiccup. Cranston’s character is the one we care about the most. He has a real reason for tracking these things. He has a reason to be upset. But we follow his son instead. Not to knock on Aaron Taylor-Johnson of Kick-Ass fame, but his character is a little wooden. I don’t know if anyone else could have really brought anything else to that role or not, but I defintely felt detached from his character. He was definitely a “good guy” as he saves children and will risk his life no matter what. But he showed almost no emotion whatsoever. And Elizabeth Olsen, who plays his character’s wife in the movie, is brutally underused. She is there to cry and stare off into space, looking sad. But she does it VERY well. Any scene with her and Johnson, you can see the emotion on her face in her expressions and body language. Where he, has none of the sort.

But everyone else acts as if this were a serious movie. And that works to its’ advantage because this movie needs to feel plausible. They try to ground this movie in as much realism as possible. And it works. It feels like this could actually happen in real life, and you see these characters react in ways that most people would realistically react. So that is a smart way to go about it. I also liked that this movie is shot from the humans’ point of view. So some mosnter fights may be short-lived, but its at the expense of really seeing this as if we are seeing it in person. This works very well because you’re not just seeing monsters fight the entire time.

I did feel the the first act of the movie was really strong, but the second was not so much. It was a lot of build-up to the big fight at the end, but it was almost too much build-up. Not only do they spend a lot of time building this up, but they tease you countless times. There are so many times where you see the monsters fighting, only to have them pull away from it. They tease with this so many times, it’ll make you numb. But, it is so worth it. The 2-on-1 handicap match against Godzilla was epic. It looked beautiful and actually made my jaw drop more than once. There is a moment where I wanted to cheer because the moment was so badass. The last act of the movie definitely isn’t a problem.

As for the visuals of the entire movie, it is breathtaking. The destruction and the monsters look amazing. Credit to Gareth Edwards who made this movie look amazing. And seeing this through a human perspective really goes to show the true size of these giant monsters. And I LOVED that they never really referred to them as “monsters.” They almost always referred to them as animals. Which makes more sense for a movie grounded in realism for the most part.

The music was amazing. Alexandre Desplat, who amazed me with his score for the Oscar winner Argo, really brings his A-game here. Every moment, is better because of the music. If its a fight, you feel intense. If you’re supposed to jump in your seat, the music will make you. There are definitely some creepy undertones with the score and it just added to how good it is.

From this review, I don’t complain about a whole hell of a lot. I think it has it’s issues but mostly, overall this is just a purely enjoyable movie. But what gets at me, is that not a whole lot is really explained about Godzilla. It is vague and I personally wasn’t satisfied with the lack of information we get. You are supposed to go in knowing a little bit about Godzilla, I think. But, I am a person who holds more weight in story, rather than awesome-looking action. That’s why I wasn’t a fan of Elysium. It looked good, but it lacked story. This one has a basic story with awesome action.

I guess I just wanted more explanation and more story, but that is expecting a lot from a disaster/monster movie. I should have went in with the expectations of most of the movies that fit the same genre, but I mistakenly held it up to a higher standard because of the critical praise and the actors. This movie will make you cheer and have those jaw-dropping moments throughout. That tells you that you had a good time with this movie. That is what Godzilla is. A damn good time.

Cast:

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa
Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody
Sally Hawkins as Vivienne Graham
Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody
Richard T. Jones as Captain Russell Hampton

WHAT I LIKED:

+: The last act was AWESOME. It looked awesome, felt awesome, and literally had one or two moments when I wanted to cheer. A semi short-lived fight that still holds it’s own and really makes it have an epic feel. It takes a while to get there, but that battle was pretty damn awesome.

+: The acting all around. Cranston, Watanabe, Olsen, Binonche, and Strathairn all kill it. Cranston is the stand out, as he sinks his teeth into his role and really hits every emotional note he needs to. We feel his pain and would rather have followed his character than his son.

+: The score was awesome. Creepy, eerie, strange, and frightening undertones to an already badass score makes this a score to remember. It really helps put you in the moment at hand and all credit is due to Alexandre Desplat. This is a soundtrack I would actually listen to in my own free time. YouTube here I come…

+: The visuals. The monsters, the explosions, the destruction…all of it. Everything looked good. Some amazing CGI. The detail on the monsters, especially Godzilla, were done to brilliant effect.

+: The “holy shit that was awesome” moment near the end. You will know it when you see it.

+: The human perspective

+: Just an overall damn good time to sit through this movie.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

-: Aaron Taylor-Johnson didn’t do a bad acting job by any means. But he didn’t bring any emotion to the role. He was a basic character who we honestly felt nothing for. We felt more from Elizabeth Olsen’s sad stare the entire movie than from anything he did. Which bring us to….

-: Elisabeth Olsen was criminally underused. She is an amazing actress who will do amazing things in her career. Haven’t seen her in Liberal Arts? Watch it now. She did some great acting with what she had to work with. But the problem is that she was given virtually NOTHING to work with.

-: Personally, a little story-lite for my taste. There are cool elements to it, but I like more detail and information when it comes to story. I will take story over action any day of the week, so I was a tad disappointed. But, it is a monster/disaster movie after all.

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3 thoughts on “Godzilla (2014) — MOVIE REVIEW

  1. jcoop28 says:

    For you, the lead up to the payoff of the monster fight worked for you that the human elements didn’t brother you as much as it did my mom and I. I disagree because Aarron Taylor Johnson’s so bland that any screen time taken from him made me happy. I thought Edwards and Max Borenstein (writer) should have taken his character out and made Bryan Cranstan the focus. It would have been fulfilling to him as a person to see Godzilla walk off in the sunset knowing that the monster that caused his wife to death was destroyed.
    Film is subjective but I’m glad the film is on track for 90 million this weekend. I want more Godzilla movies as a fan. I want every 3 to 5 years there is a Godzilla movie and when I have kids that I can take them to see Godzilla with me. I hope Warner and Legendary listens to the critics about the human story and decides to focus it on more characters we care about.

  2. I’d never seen a good movie with the word “Godzilla” in the title. Now, I have seen a good one.

  3. lysergication says:

    “It feels like this could actually happen in real life, and you see these characters react in ways that most people would realistically react. ”
    I disagree wholeheartedly with this. The characters in this movie consistently did idiotic things that no normal person would ever do. For instance, when the protagonist tells his wife and child to wait for him in San Francisco knowing full well that monsters are going that way. What type of moron would ever do that? Most people with half a brain would tell their loved ones to get out of the city. Another example of stupidity is when Elizabeth Olson knows about the sh*tstorm descending on them and puts her son on a school bus. I think any decent mother would not want to send their child off god knows where at a time like this. There are many more examples of stupidity in this movie.
    In this whole movie there was not a single human character that I sympathized with with the exception of the protagonist’s father, who for whatever reason gets killed off in the beginning, leaving us with his dumbass, pointless(with deer in the headlights look) son that brings absolutely nothing to the plot of the movie (excet for comic relief).

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