An ancient monster fights other ancient monsters while cities get destroyed and people try to fight back.
Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters), is an epic letdown, not the epic showdown the box-art promises . Sadly, the curse of Elizabeth Olsen continues*. Godzilla is a bore of the first order, showing you nothing that you haven’t seen a hundred times before. It is generic summer blockbuster film-making that, at least, has the good sense to provide amazing special effects. Yes, it is better than 1999’s Roland Emmerich directed version, but Michael Bay films are better than that travesty, and that isn’t saying much.
Normally, this is the point in my reviews where I go into a little bit of detail on the plot of the film. It isn’t necessary for this, but I will give you the gist. Mankind accidentally wakes up a winged monstrosity that feeds on radiation and can release a burst of EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that fries all electronics in the area. The beast begins seeking out radiation for it’s sustenance and in the process destroys some cities. Once it wakes up, a female wakes up as well and the two work to meet, laying a path of destruction. Godzilla then wakes up to kick their asses. Mankind tries to stop them. We fail. Ken Watanabe says:
And they fight. That’s the basic plot, while shoehorning in a dog who runs from a tsunami and people who get out of the way of said tsunami by running into a building with glass doors, which miraculously keeps the water out of the building (?).
Then again, what do you really expect from the plot of a Godzilla film? You expect monsters fighting and cities being destroyed, and that is exactly what you get in this film. The problem is that it is a terrible bore and we have seen it a hundred times before, most recently in Pacific Rim, which I wasn’t a huge fan of.
All of the actors seem to have been phoning in their performances, as well. The usually reliable Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) is even over the top melodramatic. Bryan Cranston (John Carter) is decent enough in the film for the short amount of time he is in it, but Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) is just a generic soldier and is completely unmemorable in the film. The great Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) is about the only actor worth noting, as the professor who takes over for Bryan Cranston.
The only thing I can say positively for the film is that the special effects are top notch and the film has atmosphere to spare. There is a very exciting scene near the end of the film where soldiers parachute into the city where Muto and Godzilla are fighting. The effects work and atmosphere are extremely effective and I found myself on the edge of my seat during the intense sequence. That scene alone is a redeeming quality in an extremely boring film.
One thing I have complained about in recent films is the lack of a strong musical score. Since the semi-retirement of John Williams, there have been no film scores that evoke the kind of emotional impact necessary for the entertainment on the screen. For this reason alone, the Marvel films will never reach that pinnacle of a four star rating from me. Until they can find a strong enough composer to rival the score from Superman: The Movie, they will never be perfect. That being said, Godzilla attempts to buck this trend by offering a rousing score that actually, at times, takes precedent over the sound effects. This is a drastic change in the way films have been made for roughly 10 years and it is staggering, if you are paying attention. Kudos to Edwards for attempting to bring the film score back. Yes, I noticed, and thank you.
While this review is certainly not glowing, I didn’t hate the film. I just found it entirely forgettable and extremely pedantic. There is nothing new or original in this film. If you have seen any of the original Godzilla films or even the Roland Emmerich version, you have seen everything there is to see here. Hell, Edwards own film, Monsters, is heads and tails better than this and was at least original. I’d have to say skip his version of Godzilla and watch Monsters instead.
*In reference to the curse of Elizabeth Olsen, she is a fantastic actress who is brilliant in everything she’s in (this film is the exception). The issue? None of the films she has been in has been very good. Read my review of Martha Marcy May Marlene.
** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Released this year, in 2014, this version of the film is on the 60th anniversary of the original.
- Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson will next be seen together in Avengers: Age of Ultron as Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver, respectively, this time as brother and sister instead of husband and wife.
- Guillermo del Toro was considered to direct this film, but was busy filming his own homage to Godzilla, Pacific Rim.