Godzilla Review (Originally written May 2014)

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I’ll admit, I jumped on the Godzilla bandwagon.  I jumped on it real fast.  From the moment I heard that monstrous roar I was drooling.

It’s now 2:45 in the morning and I’ve just arrived home from seeing the movie.  What. A. Movie.

Alas, I don’t mean that in a good way.  Considering it’s a two hour long movie called “Godzilla” I went in assume Godzilla would be the main character.  Nope. Instead, the movie follows the family hijinks of Heisenberg and Kickass. Err… I mean Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  Kickass goes on adventures of having the shit kicked out of him but never seeming like he’s in actual danger.

There were multiple scenes in the movie where I’d start to get pumped up.  “This is it.” I found myself thinking.  The impending monster apocalypse has arrived and is about to start in all its glory.  HERE IT COMES! OH MAN! Cut to new scene.  Huh?  Wait.  Godzilla.  Come back to me you majestic gorilla-whale.   Nope, that’s all the Godzilla for now.  Let’s go back to those silly little humans and their silly little plans that make little to no sense. Dammit.

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Fuck.

I kept finding myself thinking about another giant monster film that came out somewhat recently.  Yup, you guess it, Pacific Rim.  Now Pacific Rim may not be the greatest movie ever but it gave you what you came for.  Giant monster vs giant robot fights. I want to see my baby Gojira murder the hell out of some MUTOs.

When the movie started to approach its climax, and the monster bash was clearly about to begin in earnest, I started paying attention to how long Godzilla was on screen.  Approximately 10-15 minutes.  Perhaps 20-30 minutes in the entire movie.  These aren’t 20 action packed minutes either.  Roughly half the time Godzilla is on screen we’re either following his movements as he’s submerged underwater or seeing a super close up.

Perhaps you can tell I’m a bit upset.  I REALLY wanted this movie to be great.  To show that Americans could do Godzilla right.  Maybe this film is proof that we cannot do any such thing.  We can make a crappy romance story/family drama that occasionally features a giant monster destroying shit.  That’s about it.

While this film isn’t as bad as the 1998 predecessor, it certainly drops the ball.  Most of my gripes (pretty much all of my gripes) come from the lack of Godzilla in a movie called Godzilla.  If this film was called “Immortal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Lieutenant That Seems Really Well Versed In a Variety of Situations” it’d be a different  story.

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“You mean that’s all we see of Godzilla?”

Bryan Cranston, in his role of a distraught and grieving husband, is engaging and moving. Sadly, most of the other performances fall short. The only other human character I found myself enjoying was Dr. Ichiro Serizawa played by Ken Wantanabe AKA the actual Last Samurai. It seems like this genius scientist becomes increasingly dimwitted as the movie progresses. The writing for the female characters (Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, and Juliette Binoche) is practically nonexistent and mostly boils down to looks of shock. Godzilla has its flaws but the writing stands out as the biggest culprit.

I guess it all comes down to “Should I see this movie?”  It’s a tough call actually.  First you must ask yourself another question “Do I want to see this movie solely for Godzilla fucking shit up?”  If you answered yes to this question, you probably shouldn’t see this movie.  You will more than likely be disappointed.  The last 15-20 minutes are where the bulk of the action is found.  The other 100 minutes feel more like filler and a desperate attempt to make us care about people you don’t actually care about.  I give Godzilla 3 out of 5.  While not a bad movie in its own right, its biggest downfall is taking a beloved icon like Godzilla and essentially putting him in the background of his own movie.

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