Godzilla (2014)

I watched last year’s Godzilla reboot this evening and here is my review:

First I should say that I’m neutral to the original. I’m not a tremendous fan or anything. It was cheesy fun when I was a child. It was the kind of movie my brother and I would watch on a Saturday afternoon on an analog black and white TV that looked something like this:

black and white tv

Godzilla was to me then about the same as any other monster movie, except it was perhaps a little cooler because it was also science fiction. Anyway, the 1954 Godzilla is not a film that that holds a special place in my heart. Nor do its sequels.

I watched the reboot mostly out of curiosity to see how a major contemporary studio would rework the material in 2014. There was reason to be hopeful, I felt. In the 1998 Godzilla film with Matthew Broderick, I actually kind of liked the monster itself. I think anyway you slice it Godzilla is a dinosaur, albeit a mutated one from nuclear radiation. So it didn’t bother me that the 1998 one resembled a T-Rex and didn’t belch fire, or plasma radiation, or whatever it is. The plot was goofy, yes. (What was the French Intelligence doing there? Really?) But I went with it. Matthew Broderick was likable and the monster was pretty cool.

I think this film basically pits Mothra (an antediluvian alpha predator) against Godzilla… Is that what those two insect-like creatures with the sort of pterodactyl-like wings that had initially cocooned themselves were? In any case, I was never particularly a fan of Mothra. So…

This version for 2014… is basically a fail for me. I appreciate the effort to try to design Godzilla to resemble and behave like the 1954 original. For those that have affection for the original, I should think that will please them (at least one of my friends feels this way). To me, I would rather see something cooler by the way of monsters that seem a little more scientifically realistic.

In terms of story and characters this film doesn’t have a lot going for it. (Spoiler alert! Although imho it’s probably best that you know…) After the major disappointment of losing Brian Cranston after the first ten minutes of the film, it is all downhill from there. It’s not to say that you won’t care at all  about Ford (a Navy bomb squad expert) and Elle Brody (his wife, and a nurse). And Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen both give at least fair performances in those respective roles. But there just isn’t much for them to sink their teeth into to begin with.

That is fair enough, perhaps. The star is Godzilla, after all. But at least for me, the monster didn’t really wow me.*  And so without a monster that I really like, I turn to the human beings to look for a story that I might care about. And there isn’t much here to really grab me on that front either.

Pacific Rim actually does the kaiiju thing much, much better, by the way. There’s a far more engaging story to that film. And it features cooler monsters, and far more likable characters.

The stupidity of the military in movies like this is starting to get a little annoying. That cinematic trope, I mean. The military command is always portrayed as inexcusably misguided, pig-headed, and foolish. Filmmakers: please do something original here, or at least that doesn’t rely on this worn-out convention (Pacific Rim  avoids it fairly well, actually).

* So what monsters have wowed me? Well, Alien sure did. Predator did too. I could cite a lot more monsters that succeed, but those are the first two that came to mind.

Godzilla (2014)

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