I have to say the movies are certainly making it harder for me to write these reviews and keep to my rules of no spoilers. The trailers did a good job of keeping *most* of the spoilers from the audience. Until recently movie spoiler/insider sites have been keeping one under wraps. Why? No clue. These places pay a lot of attention to every detail in trailers and if they missed it and I saw it – I need to get paid to do this. I also debated doing an old vs. new segment on this comparing the Broderick 1998 version to the 2014. I debated it long enough to realize I can’t give a single point in favor of Broderick. Not. One.
So what does 2014 bring?
A plot. A cohesive plot. We get to thank the writers Max Borenstein (who has done nothing you’ve seen) and Dave Callaham (Expendables, Doom) for part of that. Some of you by now are going – why is there a plot? Well truth be told, we need one these days. We demand it. If there wasn’t a plot (Pacific Rim) the movie gets torn apart by critics and movie goers alike. Even thin plots (any Roland Emmerich film) fare better and at least get a laugh for their pitiful attempts. If you try and fail with ridiculousness (1998 Godzilla) you are eviscerated. As an audience we have trouble making up our mind. In the end its safer to have one that makes sense – which they did. Mostly.
Gareth Edwards, our director who brought us the visionary film Monsters. It was far more subtle than District 9 was in its plot. He was a good choice for this movie as he appreciates the sense of scale and how to insert characters into stories bigger than them. Its an important talent and was needed for this picture. You can tell that he loved the original movies and wanted to bring some of that beautiful flavor back into the genre.
This leads to one of the potential problems with the film as well.
The characters are irrelevant. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass and the upcoming Avengers 2) and Elizabeth Olsen (OldBoy and…the upcoming Avengers 2) are always interesting to watch and very human. I think fandom’s will have a field day that Quicksilver and Wanda play a couple in this movie. I also have to make a call out that the family name Brody appears to be a call out to Jaws. Especially as Olsen’s character is named Elle (Ellen was the wife in Jaws). Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Rock of Ages) and Ken watanabe (Last Samurai, Inception) are always watchable. Even if Watanabe is mostly staring off into space the entire movie, muttering yoda like words of wisdom that will ultimately go unheeded.
These characters all have stories and these stories are intertwined with that which we came to see – The monster. It also highlights the problem. Their stories don’t matter. They are observers in their own lives. They think they are active but they are brought along for the same ride the rest of us are. Taylor-Johnson even gets a few painful, eye rolling character moments that hurt to watch, but they didn’t last too long. At least, unlike Man of Steel, he has a reason to continue with the story and while the reason is relatively thin, it works better than so many other “you look trustworthy or useful, come along!”
Of course, if you are reading this still, you want to know about Him.
He is everything he needs to be. He is large. He is in charge. He is the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. He even is able to emote, not bad for an animal. He is epic. All we needed was a mic drop and we’d be good. The roar was so worth it in the XD. He just LOOKS good. Yes, he is bigger and “fatter” than he has been before. Buildings have changed a bit since his original appearance and I am quite good with the scale. I am quite happy that in the end we are irrelevant to him. Ant, meet boot.
From an FX standpoint, the movie is actually really well done. 3D isnt needed, but if you can get higher quality sound and need to see it in 3D – do it. I was overall really impressed with the creature design and effects and their integration into the story. Seeing cities laid to waste in epic battles was also well done. You don’t get to see all the battles and its worth it to make the climax of the film what it needs to be.
Godzilla absolutely met my expectations. It was appropriately epic. It is a really good modernization of a classic icon. Plenty of nods to the original films exist. I want you to ignore anyone who talks about the Godzilla cartoon of references Gadzooki, they weren’t paying attention.
Should you see it?
Well, yes. I am not as jazzed as I was walking out of Winter Soldier, but I am looking forward to seeing this again tomorrow night. Again if you have to see it, please see it with the best sound system you can. 3D still is not required. It is also surprisingly kid friendly. Not entirely sure how they manage it but they did.
This does rank as one of the better films this year and may hold the title in the top 5 for awhile.
Please enjoy Godzilla, but don’t go in expecting your Kaiju world to be blown.
Next week, another anticipated film. X-Men: Days of Future Past.