Godzilla 2014: King of the Monster Teasers
Godzilla is a 2014 monster film directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Bryan Cranston, and Elizabeth Olsen. It is the first major film appearance for Godzilla since Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004.
The film begins in 1954, when an ancient Godzilla is lured to an island in an attempt to kill it with a nuclear bomb. Flash forward to 1999, Joe Brody (Cranston), a supervisor at a Japanese Nuclear Power Plant, sends his wife and a team of technicians to explore strange seismic activity. However, Brody's wife and the team get trapped and are unable to escape. The plant collapses. Fifteen years later, Brody's son Ford (Johnson) works as a U.S. Navy officer, and is living in San Francisco with his wife Elle (Olsen) and son Sam. Ford is summoned back to Japan when his father is arrested for trespassing. Joe convinces Ford to explore the area where the nuclear power plant went down, as Joe believes that the Japanese government is behind some sort of cover up. They learn that this supposed cover-up involves something big and something destructive (it's actually not Godzilla).
America needed this new rendition of nearly everyone's favorite giant, fire-breathing reptilian (Smaug who?). The 1998 Godzilla was a slap in the face to Toho's infamous kaiju, and can now perhaps be seen as just some trial and error for America's "experimentation" with Godzilla. For one, this Godzilla actually looks like Godzilla and not some poorly contrived iguana. This Godzilla is also another nice return for the character after a ten year hiatus following Godzilla: Final Wars. So does America finally get it right this time?
No one should go into a Godzilla movie or, heck, any movie centered on giant monsters and expect deeply layered characters and dramatic human interactions. If you're not going to the theater to watch Godzilla trample buildings and wrestle with other gargantuan monsters, then please do not go and buy a ticket in the first place. This Godzilla does not quite hit it out of the park, but it is still satisfactory service for avid fans of the long-running Japanese franchise.
- Bryan Cranston. Even though human characters will take a back seat to gargantuan monsters nine times out of ten, Cranston delivers a strong and memorable performance, even with limited screen time. He does a quality job displaying that obsessed scientist who believes something wild and unimaginable with nobody else believing him. Brody is convinced that the government is hiding something, and he has put together various clues to support his claim. His son doesn't fully buy into his claims (of course), but Brody will not go down without a fight ("I have a right to know! I deserve answers!"). I almost felt bad for him because he is really the only character to take initiative of anything without somebody or something forcing him along. But then again, he is really the only character that really takes action when it comes to figuring out what the heck is going on. If your spouse died in a tragic accident, I would think that you want to know all you can as to how and why they died. As for the other characters, it's not until when Godzilla and other monsters start a throw-down do they say, "Hey, there's all this bad stuff going down! We'd better figure it all out!" Nobody feels the inclination to address the backgrounds and intentions of the giant monsters until they finally show up.
- I would say Godzilla is another high, but the problem is that Godzilla is not in the movie enough. Gareth Edward's direction and writer David Callaham's script are in question here, because how can one justify your titular character having only 10-15 minutes of screen time in a two hour film? There are two occasions when Godzilla appears, and the movie abruptly cuts away to something else. Godzilla surfaces in Hawaii, which is where we get our first full body shot of him. He lets out a thunderous roar, and just when the childhood-nostalgia in us is about to explode, we cut to Elizabeth Olsen's character with her son marveling at watching dinosaurs (Godzilla) on a TV screen. If you didn't get enough of cursing up a storm over the movie teasing you with not giving you coveted monster visuals, they decide to do the same tease again when Elizabeth Olsen and a crowd of people are running into a safe location. As doors are closing, we see Godzilla about to get into a fight, but then the doors close and we move on to an entirely different scene. It's not until the last half-hour do we finally get some extended and exciting Godzilla sequences. So if for whatever reason you decided to start watching the movie an hour and a half in, you would see a bunch of monsters on screen and probably not care how they got there. The only worthwhile human character moments you would miss are those involving Bryan Cranston.
Godzilla 2014 has its own special quirk in the Godzilla franchise, because it's one of the very few (actually, it might be the first), Godzilla movie to feature a human character in Bryan Cranston who has lines and an overall performance that you will likely remember and think about afterwards. Still, it does not cloak the fact that our titular monster is seen sparingly throughout his American renaissance. The only upside to that is the movie is able to dodge falling into the pitfall of dumb, cornball fun. Then again, isn't Godzilla usually pure cornball fun? Isn't that why we've spent so many years watching him and other monsters pummel each other to death?
The 2014 Godzilla is the equivalent of getting to eat a sandwich that you've been craving for a long time. The only problem is that the sandwich doesn't quite have the savory flavor that it used to. When Godzilla is on screen, he owns the movie. Too bad that Gareth Edwards thinks pulling cruel jokes like cutting away right before Godzilla is about to lay waste is an ideal way to film a monster movie. At least Roland Emmerich tried to give us our money's worth.
Recommend? If you're a die-hard Godzilla fan, then yes. Otherwise, I wouldn't insist on seeing it.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: