So Godzilla is out this weekend and there has been so much hype around this movie that almost everyone has either heard about it or will probably be thinking about watching it this weekend. But if you’re still unsure if this is the movie for you, I’ll take you through what I thought of this 2014 variant of Godzilla.
This Godzilla comes from director Gareth Edwards (Monsters 2010) and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody who works in the military and is a specialist in bomb disposal, sort of like Jeremy Renner’s character in the Hurt Locker (2008) only far less skilled. Ford is the son of Joe Brody who is played by Bryan Cranston. Joe is a scientist that works in a nuclear power plant and spends the majority of his screen time trying to figure out what caused his power plant to be destroyed. The movie also stars Ken Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa who is another scientist and an expert in Godzilla and also Elizabeth Olsen who plays Elle Brody and wife to Ford.
While the movie does start off well with a lot of build up in characterisation for Bryan Cranston’s character Joe, it sort of falls away in its characterisation quite quickly. Going into the movie I had the impression that Bryan Cranston was in the lead role but he isn’t, actually it’s Aaron Taylor Johnson who is in the lead and Cranston is merely the opening act. To me this disappointed me in a way and I’m not even Cranston fan! It’s disappointing because the movie starts off focusing and investing a lot into Joe, but then shifts completely over to Ford once Godzilla arrives. Other characters like Elle or Dr. Serizawa don’t really add much at all to the film and sadly the characters for me don’t really help a lot in making Godzilla something great. Good characters that bring some emotion or a human connection make a good movie and this movie didn’t really do that, it had poor characters which are impossible to feel anything for or relate to in anyway.
But you don’t really go to see Godzilla so you can look at Bryan Cranston or Elizabeth Olsen for two hours, you go there so you can see Godzilla, you want Godzilla to get out of the water and smash stuff!! You want Godzilla to fight something big and you want every bit of Hollywood action explosions your money can buy. Well, you get a bit of that… I will let you guys know that Godzilla does fight these other monster’s and they are the ones who smash a lot of the city. In all the parts where the monster’s were out and they were smashing stuff and fighting each other I loved it!! But for every moment that they did get out and fight, it was sort of like the camera would pan away to something else. There was an awesome battle in Japan between Godzilla and another monster and the camera went away and showed a kid watching it on TV and I felt like I was missing the fight, the movie does this constantly. Towards the end of the movie you do get a lot of Godzilla action scenes and there are some good finishing moves there, but I want more. You hear throughout the movie from Ken Watanabe who says “Let Them Fight” and I want them to, but it was like I didn’t get a big enough fight.
There is also a very large amount of military scenes in this movie. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor Johnson) who is our man and bomb expert, spends a lot of the time running around chasing Godzilla with the army. I just thought that with all these military scenes that after a while it seemed like more of an advertisement for the US military than anything else. There are bits where there is a fleet of battleships sailing the sea with Godzilla in the middle as if they are friends, there are jets that fly by as Godzilla roars and tanks that are positioned perfectly every time so we can see how good they are. While I understand that the military gets called in to deal with Godzilla, to me it seemed like the movie was trying to get me to join the Navy or something like that.
The movie does have a very big plus though and it’s Godzilla. Godzilla in this movie is quite big! Almost maybe too big as he doesn’t seem to fit fully into one single shot of the film. But he’s there and he’s massive and he’s ready to smash anything or anyone that gets in his way. I quite like the design of Godzilla in this movie, there are some bits in the movie where you see Godzilla and his size and you think wow! Godzilla was great and I loved watching him and seeing how he moves and walks.
I honestly feel that if this movie just had better characters that were built up in a different way, that I could have really felt something for them when they were in danger. When anyone was in danger in this film, I wasn’t too worried because well, I don’t care about them! Godzilla could step on any character in the movie and completely crush them and I wouldn’t think anything of it and that’s a problem, that’s why movies need strong characters because otherwise it leaves too much of a reliance on the action to carry the experience. While the action is there, it’s missing a fear element and in a monster movie I want to fear the monster and I want the characters to survive, but in this I just didn’t care who survived or who didn’t. Godzilla is the King of the monster’s and he should be feared!
Godzilla in the past as I remember as with most movies of this genre usually brings with it a message, some warning about nuclear energy or the environment or the planet or whatever it is, it’s usually there. But this movie doesn’t really encapsulate an overall message. There is a lot of talk about nuclear power but not much on its dangers and that’s a shame as well because it’s an interesting topic. It’s what Godzilla is about, it’s what makes it interesting and it wasn’t there.
I saw this movie in 3D and didn’t think it was anything special, it does have some good effects but I don’t see much more benefit over going to a 2D session, you won’t miss much. I would suggest however, going to see the movie in the biggest possible screen you can. As action movies go, you want to be somewhere loud and somewhere with a big screen. That will make the Godzilla reveal and the fight scenes the best experience for you. Go to a small screen and you might not enjoy it as much.
Overall Godzilla does bring with it some great entertainment at times. It has quite a good start and slowly builds up to the monster’s. The fights are good and there is some value to be had with the action elements of the movie. The characters aren’t great though and the acting isn’t much to see either. There are many holes in the storytelling and at times it’s a bit of an advertisement for the military. It’s not going to entertain you if you’re looking for a masterpiece in film, but it will if you’re simply looking for something fun and a strong action experience with some great monster battles. Godzilla is big and he’s giant!! Godzilla has a large screen presence, so make sure if you watch it, you’re in the biggest screen you can find.
Also take a look at our other Godzilla review from Petey Oneto to see what he thought of the film, you can read that right here.