Reviews: Godzilla 2014
Godzilla 2014: Good, but too Hollywood
Don't get me wrong, this is a great film (and, in my eyes, easily superior to Pacific Rim). The action is intense, the visuals amazing and immersive, the military is shown as incapable of being a threat to the monsters, but that doesn't stop them from always being calm, logical and rational, helping ground the film, and the cinematography in conjunction with the effects is simply jawdropping. It's one of those things that you only notice when its done amazingly well or downright awful? Well, here, it's done simply fantastically. But there's three big problems with the film. The protagonist? Is as Hollywood a protagonist as you can get: A white male american soldier (a bomb disposal soldier, too!), married to a white woman who works as a nurse, and has a little boy too. His acting isn't great, but he's hardly given a huge amount to work with, because aside from his job description and his family... there's nothing to him. The teasing of fights between Godzilla and the Mutos is poorly handled, too. I get why you want to save the best for last, but it almost feels like we're being trolled at times, giving us an image of Godzilla and a Muto about to fight, and then cut to something completely different. We need to feel tension for the upcoming final battle, not anger and frustration at the editor and director for building up a fight and then cutting away at the last second, only showing the aftermath. The final problem (I expand more on it here: http://beyondthepolygons.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/godzilla-2014-good-but-needs-less-hollywood/ ), is that there's little tension in it all. It becomes clear early on that anyone in danger that the camera focuses on will be alright. We're never given a face to the massive loss of life, and it cripples the intended horror of seeing a completely wrecked city. Even in the chaos of the most vicious attack, we never get a connection to the hundreds of thousands of people being killed.
What would you do if a giant monster attacked?
I've been seeing the new Godzilla movie get a lot of criticism for how much, or little, it shows Godzilla and his fights, and I've seen a lot of defenses about how most good Godzilla movies-and indeed most good monster movies in general, don't show the monster very much. That is true, for both artistic and technical reasons (the shark robot not working in Jaws, the cost of cgi, ect). However, it doesn't address the movie's tendency to cut away from the action. To address that point, the way the monsters and their fights are shot needs to be considered. The movie goes to great lengths to show the monsters from the point of view of the humans they tower over, the better to get across their size and impact. This means that we are not being shown that much more of the monsters than the people who are unfortunate enough to be close enough to see them. And what happens when a 350 foot monster starts knocking down buildings near you? Do you try to get a better view? Of course not. You run away, or you die. In either case, the human POV is not going to be focused on getting a good look at the monster fight. That is why the action is cut away so much. Because the people whose point of view we could be seeing from are either running like hell away from the action or dead. It is only when the military sends people in with a mission that prevents them from running away that we get an extended look at the big rumble, mostly from the military's POV. Whether this was a good choice (or rather, decision to follow it so closely) is debatable. I think it was, even with the film's other problems like a lack of interesting human characters. No one got on my nerves like pretty much every character in Transformers did, so I was able to keep my interest in the plot. And I really appreciate the excellent cinematography. It doesn't match the original Gogira, but the future of the franchise has never looked brighter.
The Good The story is interesting in that it manages to not just explain but expand upon the origins of Godzilla, and from what I understand it mostly stays loyal to the origins of Godzilla. The CGI, especially for Godzilla, is amazing. The destruction left behind is a work of wonder as well for visual effects. The Bad There are a ton of plotholes in the film, and almost all of them stem from the military's stupidity and incompetence. I don't know what it is about Godzilla movies and the military, but they never seem to go well together. The characters are bland. They could have been interesting and worthy of investment, but they're just modern versions of the same stereotypes you see in sci-fi monster films. I really wish they kept Bryan Cranston's character in the movie because I think he was the only one that could have been developed. The Ugly (Warning: Rant) When I get a movie called Godzilla, I expect to see Godzilla. While the shots showing his arrival throughout the movie are impressive...that's the most you get until the climax. They give an epic shot of him appearing, he starts a fight...and then they focus on the f**king humans. And they do this not once, but three d**n times! HELLO, Didn't they learn anything from that POS Matthew Broderick movie?! And it's not like you couldn't see Godzilla. They explicitly have enough lighting to show him and the one he's against in the very first fight, having it captured on news cameras and displayed on T Vs for other characters to see. But what do we focus on? The f**king military guy and the totally unnecessary random kid he had to protect. Now in the climax, him fighting is given more focus and it's awesome to finally see. Like I said, the CGI is amazing. But it's a little too dark to see everything and I would have preferred to see more of it. I don't think it would have killed them to add an extra five to eight minutes of the title character doing what he does best. Final Verdict I'm glad I decided to just get it from redbox and not buy it like I thought of doing. With the positive things I heard I was rather excited to see this film, and I ended up a little disappointed. It was fun to watch, but I don't think it would have been worth to own, let alone to be seen in theaters.
Very Cool Godzilla flick... when it tries to be a Godzilla flick
Off the bat, I knew that the film would be heavy on the human characters. That it would revolve around Ford Brody, and we'd get the boots-on-the-ground perspective of a Kaiju attack. Like the original, there would be a slow burn before we see Godzilla. Problem is, even when we see Godzilla, they film will quickly jump to another seen as far away from him as possible. When Godzilla or the Mutos show up, it is downright amazing. However, it often feels not like a Godzilla film with a human b-plot starring Aaron Paul, but an Aaron Paul film with a kaiju b-plot starring Godzilla. A lot of what could have been amazing scenes happen either off-camera or are glossed over; with the viewers just getting to see the fight on television news or something. Compounding this... Ford Brody isn't particularly interesting. Brian Cranston and Ken Watanabe have much more interesting characters (and are more charismatic in their roles), but they don't particularly do much. At times, the movie gets almost narmy with the dialogue, and a moment towards the end made me roll my goddamn eyes. Godzilla honestly is portrayed far more heroically than he has been in a long time, which is an odd choice given how serious the film tries to play things. With that said. When the movie finally gives us what we came for, it is extremely well done. The final fight between the Mutos and Godzilla may just be my favorite fight of the franchise; it's a good combination of brutal, and finally seeing his spines light up had the entire theater hyped up. And despite what I said about it being narmy at times... it goes with the territory; I've seen Godzilla fly and do a tail-sliding dropkick, and what happens in this film isn't nearly as bad. All in all, it's not as amazing as I had been hyped up for. It's a competent Godzilla film dragged down by some pretty serious issues, and for what it was I really enjoyed myself. It's not the best film Godzilla's been in, but it's also very far from the worst film. All things considered, first thoughts are that it was a solid Godzilla film that could've been great had there been more focus on the monsters.
Way better than the 1998 movie
I realize the above title isn't saying much, but still, it is indeed way better than last American movie. I grant you that it could have used some more character development, but what the hell, we're not here for the character development. We're here for the big G himself. They probably could have shown him more, but whenever he does appear, it's absolutely worth it. The MUT Os made for some very good antagonists. They came off as similar to Zilla in the Roland Emmerich version. On the subject of the human characters, I admit that they killed off Joe Brody too soon. As for Ford Brody, I thought that Aaron Taylor Johnson did quite well. Yes, he's listed under Dull Surprise, but you don't get to be an EOD man without being able to keep your emotions under control. On the subject of the Big G himself,he never disappoints. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new era for Godzilla on the American front. I would love to see what else the future has in store for him.
You know the whole "Just here for Godzilla" thing? The film kind of feels like that. Godzilla is the King of All Monsters, and he definitely measures up. Perhaps a little too well. Godzilla is by far the best character in the film. But the rest of the film feels rushed. Most of the humans in the film, main characters included, suffer a lack of development, a lack of meaning. The film doesn't really provide us a reason to invest in them. We know too little. We get hints, here and there, but they're not expanded on. The action in the film suffers the same downside. For the most part, it jumps around too quickly. Like the flaws with the characters, the destruction doesn't get the chance to sink in. Instead, we're already on the move again. To its credit, when the film delivers, it really delivers. But when it doesn't, you feel the effects. You never quite feel like the characters are ever really in danger until the last minute. All in all, it's a good movie. But it feels like it could benefit a lot from slowing down and taking a few more risks, rather than spending so much time getting the King of All Monsters right that the rest suffers. Still, if you're in the mood for Godzilla, a blockbuster, or gratuitous violence, it's worth a watch.
This is how you do an American Godzilla movie
1998: 11 year old me had seen nearly every Godzilla movie brought to the United States, that's King of the Monsters to Biollante. I came out feeling really disappointed from the Hollywood treatment. 2014: Came out after cheering and clapping and having a good time. The film is not perfect, it tweaks Godzilla's origins but there is a lot of love in it for Godzilla. It is true, Godzilla does not show up for an hour and even then he does not have a lot of screentime, there is plenty of screentime devoted towards the MUTO, the enemy monsters of Godzilla. Naturally sandwiched between the monsters are the humans. I also admit now the film is not perfect, and some will find the humans boring and perhaps Brody is not is not the most interesting protagonist he is much like the watcher wondering what is going on. Unlike some adaptions of other media, Transformers I'm looking at you, he can handle himself and does not spend the film whining about his problems. He is not afraid to join in and assit against the monsters and is quite brave. That's all fine and dandy but we are all here for Godzilla and the other monsters. When they do show up it is always worth the wait. Godzilla and the MUTO are given touches of characterization, keeping them forces of nature but still at their roots are creatures. My favorite scene doesn't actually feature fighting or fire breathing but Godzilla seeing Brody and Brody seeing Godzilla. To me that is the critical moment of the movie, uniting two parts of the same side against the MUTO, much as people argue about the human and monsters bits of giant monster movies both are needed. 90 minutes of monsters would be boring quickly, 90 minutes of humans and no monster would not be much of a monster movie either. Greatest truth: like it or not this is a far better American take on Godzilla and a better film period than the 1998 Godzilla.