Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72% (Critics) / 79% (Audience)
Directed By: Gareth Edwards
Written By: Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Synopsis:The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. – (Source)
The design of Godzilla was aces. Any fear that the big fella would look goofy or be redesigned to completely not look like he could even be related to the old school version was quickly dashed when we get our first full glimpse of him. And I loved the updated effect of his ‘atomic breath” complete with Godzilla’s back and tail scales first glowing a bright bluish white and then unleashing a similar colored blast from his mouth. It was really cool and a nice upgrade of my favorite depiction of that part of Godzilla’s arsenal.
I also liked that director Gareth Edwards took the JAWS approach of giving glimpses of Godzilla before letting us see the entirety of the monster. A shot of scales breaking the water or a tail whipping around a building helped to build the suspense and anticipation for the audience. The decision to go with Godzilla as the “hero” of the movie was a good one too because my favorite Godzilla is the one who is more a protector than a malevolent force of nature as he was depicted in the horrible 1998 GODZILLA.
And Bryan Cranston was his usual awesome self. Nobody can play a desperate man on a mission who is nearing his breaking point like Cranston and he brought a lot of emotional heft to his role in this film.
I love the old school Japanese Godzilla films and one of the best things about them is that Godzilla has an overabundance of personality but the Godzilla in this film is just a big scaly cypher. He fights other giant monsters and swims but that is the full extent of the bug guy’s character traits.
And whoever made the bad decision that Aaron Taylor-Johnon’s dead eyed passionless soldier Ford brody was the best choice for the central figure of this film needs to never work in Hollywood ever again. Looking and (acting) like a buffed up Milo Ventimiglia, Taylor-Johnson was a total drag on this film every time he was onscreen and sadly he was onscreen a whole helluva lot. He clocked more screen time than Cranston, Ken Watanabe and even Godzilla himself.
I can only assume that Gareth Edwards didn’t get the memo that the biggest flaw of his film MONSTERS was that there was a distinct lack of screen time for the actual monsters because, while I liked his building towards the audience seeing Godzilla, once Godzilla was shown and the fighting began the last thing the audience wanted was to have it relegated to the background while the focus was on Taylor-Johnston’s mission to diffuse a nuclear bomb. It was like the movie was trying to be CLOVERFIELD without having the excuse of a minimal budget. I wanted to see every second of Godzilla fighting the Mutos.
Final Verdict: GODZILLA is a good looking movie that stirs all sorts of happy feelings in me by bringing a childhood favorite to the big screen in a respectable way after the horrible last attempt by Hollywood to do so. However, nostalgia only carries a film so far and despite some parts of the production be worthwhile, as a total film GODZILLA misses the mark more than I hoped it would.