Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla2014Does Godzilla need a motivation? Don’t we just want to see him mindlessly wreck cities, preferably while fighting other monsters? In this new movie, if I understood things correctly, he is trying to ‘restore balance’ according to a scientist. Get this – Godzilla goes New Age! In any case, during the high points, the movie simply shows him doing what he does best. I haven’t seen any of the original Japanese Godzilla (Gojira) movies in full, just the not very memorable US version from 1998. But it seems like large parts of the 2014 version are respectful of the source material. Only instead of a guy in a suit, we get grade A special effects simulating massive property damage and countless deaths. I liked the nods to Japan, acknowledging Gojira’s roots, even if the movie can’t resist dragging the climax over to US shores.

Some viewers have complained that you don’t get to clearly see Godzilla enough, but I don’t know what they are talking about. It takes the movie quite a while to work up to showing him in full, but once the movie gets to it, you can take good, long looks at him. But then, some people have also complained that Godzilla looks too fat here. Seriously? We’re fat-shaming Godzilla now? So sometimes opinions are suspect.

Godzilla fleetThe people in this movie are pretty ineffectual when you look back on it. The biggest direct, positive impact they have on how events play out, is just a lucky happenstance of something that was – admittedly – a smart longterm play by one person. I can’t be more specific without getting too spoilery, alas. But the human part of the cast is mostly around to observe, offer explanations about motive and to either get killed or narrowly escape. The main guy is one of those magic everymans who is both just-a-dude and someone who constantly happens to find himself in the thick of things. The family drama part of the movie is fairly by-the-numbers and the script doesn’t actually follow through on its ‘you must do everything to save your family’ (paraphrased) plot-thread. By the way, no matter what the trailers promised you, the lead is not the oft-worshipped Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. Instead, we get the fine-but-no-Bryan-Cranston Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

godzilla-bryan-cranstonI was glad to see that the movie didn’t feel the need for an after-credits tease or one of those annoying last scenes that open the door wide for a sequel. Instead, we get a surprise ending in that the final shot doesn’t seem like it will be the final shot, but then the credits start to roll. Ah well, goodbye for now Godzilla, when it’s sequel time, I doubt you will have trouble busting through the door.

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