Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk, Juliette Binoche
Directed By: Gareth Edwards
Good God. I’m glad that’s over. I’m sorry to announce that I will not be jumping on the “OMG. New Godzilla Is Awesome!” bandwagon, but I promise you I have several reasons why not. There are probably some spoilers ahead, but that’s due more to a poor marketing campaign than anything else.
First off, for a movie called Godzilla, Godzilla is barely in the film. He’s more of a “final act” plot device than anything else. The first half of the movie is exposition, the third quarter is spent tracking down a giant Mothra like creature (renamed, because I guess Godzilla Vs Mothra seemed too cheezy), and the fourth quarter finally explores Godzilla in more than just fleeting shots of wonder.
See, from the awful marketing campaign, which we all initially thought was so cool… but told you nothing about the film… you were probably led to believe that Godzilla was some terrible monster that came out of the ocean to lay waste to humanity. In actuality, the plot of the film revolves around the idea that Godzilla might be our savior, and save us from the Mothra creatures (there are 2 creatures in the film that are the villains, that are not Godzilla).
It gets even sillier. First off, our army likes to try and shoot bullets at a giant creature, because they have no concept of how incredibly tiny that bullet is to that creature. It’d be like if the ants started throwing sand particles at you before you crushed their ant hill. Would you even notice? Second, we know that the creatures feed off radiation… they literally EAT nuclear weapons. So our grand plan is to nuke them to death? Isn’t that just like… giving them a red bull?
Another problem that I have is the casting. I totally appreciate trying to fill your cast with Oscar contenders, but at what point did we start taking our summer blockbusters so damn seriously? I didn’t laugh once in Godzilla, because there are no jokes. There’s no quippy sidekick launching a thousand catchphrases. Everyone performs in this film as if they might actually be considered for an Oscar… for Godzilla. And, sorry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is not a compelling enough actor to carry the film. I miss Will Smith. Heck, I miss Shia Labeouf. And for you Bryan Cranston worshippers, he’s out of the movie before Godzilla even appears. Bryan Cranston has no screentime with Godzilla. Neither of them have a ton of screentime, and Cranston starts the film, and Godzilla ends it, so they never overlap.
Even with the requisite “Jurassic Park Shot” of a helicopter flying over a mountainous terrain of trees, Godzilla disappoints on every level… except that it is very pretty to look at. However, I saw the film in 3D, and the constant camera changes during fight sequences ended up giving me a bit of a headache. So there’s that. But this Godzilla is absolutely stunning to look at. I don’t care that people think he looks “fat”, he looks REAL. That’s more important than anything else.
But considering Godzilla is barely in the film, it’s not worth watching just to see Godzilla. Honest to God, this is one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had in theatres in recent memory. I was planning on seeing another film after, but I felt like Godzilla had sucked my soul from my body, and my lifeforce was gone. It’s an incredibly boring action film, void of humor, and jampacked with exposition. If you’ve ever wondered if a film could make you WANT to see a Michael Bay film… it’d be this. At least with Michael Bay, we might have gotten some levity, and he would have known to not hide his best asset until the audience is already asleep.
I’m disappointed that the film is doing well on rotten tomatoes. I feel like people are just happy it isn’t as god awful as the 1997 version, to which I challenge… isn’t it though?
FINAL GRADE: D