Director: Gareth Edwards
Aaron Taylor-Johnson /Ford
Ken Watanabe/Dr. Ichiro
Two horny monsters (known as Motos) looking to mate surface on earth, bringing death and destruction in their path. That’s until the King of Monsters Godzilla also known by his non de plume Gojira swims out of his underwater hide-out to take care of business, old school! He is giant lizard; hear him ROAR!
Eons ago, I tried to get into the old Godzilla movies but alas never managed to appreciate them (Godzilla 1985 aside that is, which holds a special place in my heart as it was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw). Although I understood why so many folks loved them, I just didn't get it. On that, Gareth Edwards new take on the material has inspired me to re-visit Godzilla of old and I predict that now that I am more mature and that my taste in movies has broadened since the hey-days of being a young punk, that I will value them further. We’ll see! So what about this new take on the iconic monster? I won’t mince words: I LOVED IT!
Like most I loathed Rolland Emmerich’s 1999 version of Godzilla. I never perceived it as a “real” Godzilla movie; just a boring and poor man’s Jurassic Park knock-off set in the city and with a bland cast to boot. Gareth Edwards 2014 re-do was none of that. He tackled the King of Monsters with respect, flair and class! So even though; yes you will witness destruction and monsters going buck nuts; the flick wasn’t just about that jive. It was about sucking you in slowly but surely to then whoop you stupid at the end. And that was one of my favorite things about this new Godzilla: the foreboding. For the bulk of the running time King Lizard was only hinted at here and there “JAWS” style! A whip of the tail, a glimpse at his colossal body or a shot of the eye. That device was slyly upped by having the bulk of the events communicated from the humans point of view, in a “we see what they see” type of fashion (right down to a monster mash on CNN). So by the time Godzilla put his mammoth foot down, was revealed in all of his glory and said “enough with this shite”; them fanboy waves of delight washed through me and I was smiling like a SNM broad getting the nail laced paddle.
Gareth Edwards visual style was mucho reminiscent of early Steven Spielberg in terms of awe inspiring shots with some of his suspense techniques being right out of the Hitchcock handbook (I caught some THE BIRDS ploys here). The cherry on top? Seamus McGarvey’s potent cinematography maximized the impact of it all. This was a sumptuous looking film and I loved every frame of it! Speaking of visuals, Godzilla himself looked fantastic! Although executed in CGI, they managed to capture the “man in the suit” vibe of the old Toho films, especially during the monster fist-to-cuffs bits. And although this was a bulked up, fire breathing and tough mutha Godzilla; I esteemed the hints of kindness and nobility they gave the character. Yeah Godzilla was a good guy! Just doing his job. I dug that! Every time he popped up in full I kept thinking “He’s earth’s body guard”. They perfectly captured the wow factor that Godzilla should have, right down to his glorious ROAR which had me wiggling in my seat in joy. The Mutos (what they call the other creatures) looked swell too (So one of them was Mothra right?) but they didn’t have the uppercut feel that Godzilla gave me design and presence wise.
Finally, I’ll address the human element which a lot of people have been complaining about online i.e. there wasn’t not enough character development. I couldn’t disagree more. This wasn’t a character study; this was a situation driven picture with each character having a specific role to play in the big picture. Ken Watanabe was Mr. Exposition so we knew what was what. Elizabeth Olsen (and the brat) was our lead character’s motivation, which moved his story forward while Aaron Taylor-Johnson was our anchor to the whole thing as we followed him in his quest. All of the actors were credible and likeable enough for me to care about them. I didn’t want to know what they ate for breakfast or what they yearned for when they lie awake in bed at night. It was pretty much the amount of characterization that I look for in a movie about giant monsters. But hey, that's just me!
NOTE: Bryan Cranston was the tits here, but I wish he was in the film more. The marketing campaign was a pinch misleading. Add to all a diverse/effective score by Alexandre Desplat, brilliant sound design (loved the use of silence), a potent theme of man versus nature (driven home by this beautiful bit of dialogue: “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.” ) and enough winks to prior Godzilla movies to please the hardcore fans and you get the American version of Godzilla that I’ve personally been waiting for!
Any drawbacks? Well I did feel that the film was maybe a little too long for its own good. A good 15 minutes could have been shaved off its tail in my opinion. Also; I won’t lie, I did get frustrated when Edwards would cut-away every time something really juicy started to happen between the monsters during the first hour and half. I know that it was part of his “building anticipation” plan; fair enough. It still annoyed me at times. Finally, although I loved the monster fight at the end, I yearned for even more once they wrapped it up. An hour and half build-up will do that to ya! On the whole though I had an awesome time with Godzilla! It was well thought-out, engrossing the whole way and when it finally let her rip, you couldn’t find a happier camper than this a-hole! So you gonna roar with this badboy this weekend or what?
Although peeps got stepped on and eaten and there was a lot of collateral damage, the flick was fairly bloodless.
T & A
All of the monsters were butt-naked. get that baby-oil and enjoy!
You may be let down by Godzilla if you’re expecting Pacific Rim or even Godzilla 1998. But if you go in anticipating a film that is more in line with JAWS but on a much wider scale mixed in with some of the charm of the early Toho Studios Godzilla films, you may be pleased. I found the movie to be riveting, it had a stellar cast, jaw dropping shots/action sequences, some badass monster fights and one hell of perfectly executed Godzilla on a both a technical standpoint and in terms of conveying his noble yet no BS personality.
Sure the picture was maybe 15 minutes too long, I got a bit peeved by the "cut-aways" every time something cool was going to happen and I wish the end fight was longer; but that didn’t change the fact that I was wowed, on the edge of my seat and highly entertained for 2 hours plus. The King of Monsters is back, the way he should be! I am now looking forward in going backwards and discovering all of the old Godzilla gems, something the 1998 Godzilla never did for me. I am open to suggestions! Which Godzilla movies are worth my time? Shoot!
You catch the JAWS reference? The hero clan last name is Brody.
2014 is Godzilla's 60th anniversary! This release is perfect timing!
They used Toho Studios original 1954 recording of Godzilla's roar and upgraded it.