Godzilla (2014) - Theatrical Release May 18, 2014 16:56:00 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on May 18, 2014 16:56:00 GMT -5
Sixteen years later an American movie studio gets another shot at making a Godzilla movie.
Would it be better than the disappointing 1998 attempt?
Absolutely. Much better.
Is the new Godzilla movie, this one directed by Monsters director Gareth Edwards, as good as it could have been? No. But it's a hugely entertaining movie all the same. Really, it's a huge movie in general.
The new design for Godzilla is more faithful to the original, so the movie has that going for it. It is also a more serious movie, where he 1998 version was more than a little campy. The original 1954 Godzilla (aka Gojira) was a dark, somber movie with Godzilla acting as an allegory to the atomic bombs that had been dropped on Japan just nine years earlier. The Godzilla series got less and less serious over the next two decades until Toho took a break, but when the series re-started in 1984 it was again deadly serious. Most of the Japanese Godzilla movies since then were more serious than the 1998 Roland Emmerich disappointment, and Gareth Edwards picks up the tone from there.
The one noticeable difference is that this movie is a little more ominous. There is a moodier atmosphere in this movie than in most of the recent Japanese entries to the series. Edwards' Godzilla movie has more of the, "Potential end of the world disaster," movie type vibe than a straight monster movie, and that works well.
The movie opens in 1999 in the Philippines, with a Japanese scientist (Dr. Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe) investigating the remains of a giant prehistoric creature. From there we quickly go to Japan and one of their nuclear power plants. American Joe Brody is an engineer working at the plant when something goes wrong. His wife is killed and he becomes obsessed with finding what really happened. Fast forward fifteen years and his young son, Ford, is now an adult in the military. Ford has a family of his own, and he is taken away from them when he learns that his father has been arrested in Japan for breaking into a quarantined zone while attempting to get to his old home to find data recorded on old style floppy discs. He is close to finding out what happened and is willing to do whatever it takes to get that information, including getting arrested again. He and Ford make it back to their old home, only to be detained while trying to leave. They are taken to the old nuclear plant where the governments of both Japan and the United States have been allowing some kind of egg sack to grow. From there all sorts of chaos ensues.
There are a few surprises along the way, but the bottom line for any Godzilla movie is simply this - how are the destruction scenes with Big G? On that count this movie is a huge success. The scenes of Godzilla are excellent. There is a geniune sense of size and weight with Godzilla that makes those scenes very believable. The movie could have been better with more Godzilla, but what is there is worth the price of admission.
And while some people have criticized the movie for it's human characters, the only one that really doesn't carry his dramatic weight is that of Ford Brody (as played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The character is basically written as a faceless, generic military guy with a family, and Taylor-Johnson doesn't help matters much with his low key, low emotion performance. On the other hand, Bryan Cranston (as his father, Joe Brody) is excellent. He really seems like a man obsessed with finding out the truth behind his wife's death. He doesn't believe for a second that it was a natural disaster, and the more he discovers the more his obsession is fed. Cranston was extremely well cast, and it's just a shame that his role isn't bigger than what we get in the final cut.
Edwards' direction is excellent as well, as he handles the visuals spectacularly. He also helps bring that ominous tone to the movie which gives it the gravitas that the 1998 movie never had.
While this isn't the perfect Godzilla movie, it is a far cry from the weaker entries in the series, and is a welcome return to the darker, more ominous tone that was missing in 1998.