Godzilla (2014) review
By Rob Jefchak
Godzilla, king of the monsters is one of the most legendary and worldwide famous icons in cinema history. Though hailing from Japan in a rubber suit and smashing mock buildings and cities, Godzilla’s last trip to America was back in 1998 where he got the digital CGI makeover and America’s first crack at bringing the radioactive reptile to life on the big screen. The epic failure of that 1998 film would keep Godzilla extinct until “Monsters” director Gareth Edwards took on the daunting challenge to resurrect the monster King in a hopefully much more successful venture. With flawlessly executed advertising and the narrative/name power of Bryan Cranston backing it, this new Godzilla could be exactly what everyone wanted the 1998 film to be.
Starting off with a heartbreaking nuclear disaster in 1999 that claimed the life of the wife of scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), Joe suspects some kind of creature caused the accident at the plant that killed his wife. Years later, Joy and his son Ford (Aaron-Taylor Johnson) discover this dangerous creature; as well as a gigantic monstrous lizard known as “Godzilla” who is here to either save us or destroy us in an epic battle against monster and mankind. Now the Ford family and everyone else on the planet is stuck between an epic monster war that could send everything and everyone back to the Stone Age.
When it comes to cleaning up the messy image left by the 1998 “Godzilla” film, it makes sense that making 100% sure that Godzilla looks and acts just like the monster King Japan had always envisioned. The buildup, the reveal, the powers, even the roar; it’s all here and Godzilla has never looked more terrifying or intense. The problem is that the advertising campaign did TOO good of a job building up its stars…because both Cranston and Godzilla himself had screen time that ran about the same length as the movie’s advertising commercials. For a movie called “Godzilla” it sure seems hard pressed to actually show him because for a 2 hour film, you’re lucky if Godzilla sticks around for 10 minutes.
Every time a big reveal is displayed or a giant monster brawl is about to break out, the film cuts away to the bland and boring lives and events of the lame human characters we don’t care about. Stone faced Taylor-Johnson is seen more time running around on cars, planes, trains and boats than doing anything relevant or interesting. Bryan Cranston barely sticks around after the opening credits roll and anyone else worth mentioning like Ken Watanabe or Elizabeth Olsen just stands there looking stupidly off into the distance at Godzilla while we DON’T. The second monster in the film (known as MUTOs) is barely seen in the trailers while Godzilla and Cranston are flashed around like spotlights at a movie theater’s red carpet entrance.
Where as in the actual film the MUTOs are seen more than Godzilla is and even though the 2 monsters fight 3 or 4 times, you only get to see 1 and a 1/2 % of those fights and the only clearly seen fight isn’t until the very end. The film easily sucks you in with its dramatic and powerfully captivating first half, but once it’s main star disappears and it’s titular star barely shows up for 5 minutes; everything becomes disappointing and dismal. At least with the 1998 Godzilla you got to see PLENTY of the monster and used the cast it promised it would use. I couldn’t believe a 2 hour movie could go by with so very little of interest happening. Overall, “Godzilla” did a bang up job bringing him to life with a great new look, design and presence that embodied everything that makes Godzilla excellent. But ultimately, the film fails to use its stars at all, the actors that do get center stage are boring heaps of hollow hacks and having a movie called Godzilla without barely ever showing him is just…inexcusable, plain and simple.
I give “Godzilla” 2 stars out of 4.