GODZILLA

godzilla-2014-poster-7hlzfcvoWhen the final battle comes to pass in San Francisco, you may find it so enjoyable, you’ll forget how dull much of the preceding two hours has been. That’s mostly because the humanizing attempts are laughably melodramatic — literally: the audience was tittering in spots where their heartstrings are meant to be pulled. In particular, Bryan Cranston’s storyline, involving the loss of his wife in a nuclear accident, elicits giggles as he makes the tough decision to (again, literally) close the iron door on her — a move the director is not content to let be without adding a windowpane in said door through which Cranston watches her die after they mouth lovey-doveyisms to each other. Later, Cranston’s demise (don’t worry, I’m giving away nothing) is tossed off so cursorily, I thought for a while it was a fake-out. That’s the kind of narrative sloppiness that plagues the picture, made worse by having Ken Watanabe explain key plot points in his thick accent, which left me unsure just what was going on. One of the moldiest action movie conventions — the digital countdown to a nuclear detonation that MUST BE STOPPED — is used as a sort-of afterthought that, along with so much else, takes away from what we all go to this movie to see: the Monster. Actually, this remake seems more like a sequel to one of those GODZILLA VS. GIGAN knockoffs, because the other creatures, here called Muto, get more screen minutes than the Big Guy himself. By the time these Muto have rampaged through Tokyo, Honolulu, and San Francisco, Godzilla’s thunder seems to have been stolen — until it’s made clear, late in the game, that the giant reptile is the movie’s hero and savior. The ultimate confrontation, which in a way is the largest-scale fistfight you’ve ever seen, is what we’ve been waiting for, and it does not disappoint — including a last burst of dragon-breathing fire that brought spirited applause despite the earlier derisive laughter. As for the humans, Cranston’s role is thankless, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is bland (like Tobey Maguire without the charisma), Elizabeth Olsen’s role (as Aaron’s wife) is underwritten, and Juliette Binoche and David Strathairn are just paying the rent. The great Andy Serkis is credited as Motion Capture Consultant, but while undeniably impressive, Godzilla still seems like a guy in a lizard suit when he walks. Maybe, like certain animals, he’s more at home in the water. — Jeff Schultz

 

I was never a really big fan of “monster” movies. So I never saw the original (or any of the sequels or remakes) of GODZILLA. If any of those were half as good as this, I am an idiot for dismissing them. The story of this version is that all of our use of nuclear power and testing nuclear weapons has created these creatures called MUTO (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms) that thrive on nuclear power and discharge an electromagnetic pulse that disables all our conventional weapons and technology. But Godzilla is lurking out there. He is an alpha-predator who exists to keep nature in balance and kill the Muto (or that’s what I kind of understood from Ken Watanabe’s explanation). But as usual, the military doesn’t buy it and sees Godzilla as a threat. The film starts off very good. The biggest names in the cast, Brian Cranston and Juliette Binoche, are a married couple who work at a nuclear plant. There’s a disaster that starts the story in motion and turns Cranston into a conspiracy nut. But as we learn, he is not so nutty. Director Gareth Edwards and screenwriter Max Borenstein (with a story from Dave Callaham) could have gone one of two ways. They could have gone all Michael Bay/Transformers and made the action sequences so confusing and unwatchable that we have no clue what is going on. Instead they took the smarter approach. The action isn’t non-stop. They actually take some time building suspense and anticipation for Godzilla’s appearance. Then we get small glimpses of the monster, as if to tease us of bigger things coming. And they do come. The CGI is great and staged from a comfortable distance so we can see these massive beings battle to the death. San Francisco is pretty much demolished, but it all seems logical in this world, unlike Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel which seems to take glee in demolishing Metropolis for no apparent reason. This is what a summer popcorn movie should be.. thrilling, edge of your seat entertainment that makes you think a little bit and ultimately entertains on a massive scale. – Alan Yudman

 

“Let them fight.” Truer words have never been spoken, especially in “Godzilla” where there ARE no fights to speak of! At least ones we see. Oh sure we catch glimpses on news broadcasts playing in the background while boring characters make tough decisions about where to send their kids while monsters destroy the city or supposed scientists talking about why Godzilla is a good guy even though there’s, I don’t know, no actual scientific proof of this? I give this version points for trying to do something different, but they spend more time on the buildup than the payoff. Every time we are THISCLOSE to actual action, the movie jumps to another slow drawn out scene. Oh yeah, and Godzilla is hardly in the thing!!! The big climax doesn’t hold a candle to the first 5 minutes of “Pacific Rim” and there’s no sense of fun to the whole affair. Be serious, take risks, but also reward the audience. By the time the credits rolled, I actually considered giving the horrible ’98 version a second chance to see how it compares. — Stormy Curry

 

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