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Movie Review Godzilla 2014

Movie Review Godzilla 2014

Act of Valor meets Silkwood meets Cloverfield and it works!


Godzilla Movie Poster

The King plays Vegas

The King of Monsters awakens in 2014

Let’s get the ugly business out of the way first. Godzilla (2014) represents the second attempt to bring American audiences the Japanese hero/anti-hero/King of Monsters. The previous 1998 attempt (starring Mathew Broderick) stripped the franchise of every theme and motif except for the big monster stomping around and hoped you wouldn’t notice. Once you miss the point of what Godzilla represents, you are left with the human interest that’s supposed to hold our attention between the monster-mash-melees. That is why this trailer got me so excited. We have a very solid acting performance by Bryan Cranston playing nuclear plant-specialist Ford Brody. You get a glimpse of soldiers HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jumping into combat. We see massive destruction and the iconic roar – peppered in, with teasing shots of unknown monsters.


“Only one thing worse than a dragon… Americans.”

– Creedy in Reign of Fire (2002)


Yeah, I know, it’s the Americanizing that has everyone worried. Pacific Rim made good on adapting long-standing Japanese giant robot themes and turning out a Hollywood blockbuster. So what do we get here? Well, you get what you expect with a few turns and a scene or two developed strictly to move the plot along. These moments aren’t bad or too distracting by any means, but for a film that takes the Godzilla legend and itself so seriously, it’s a little eyebrow raising. We even have the eerie vocal lines from 2001: A Space Odyssey. But okay, Americans are the stars of the show. They are the ones to figure everything out (basically) and determine the fates of all involved. Ken Watanabe stars as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, whose considerable acting talents are pushed aside as he pretty much stays -stunned to the point of inaction for the entire movie. In summary, he represents the singular important Japanese character that really isn’t as important as he should be.


Plotting Points and a few Points of Interest

            What’s the big deal -since you have Godzilla starting in Japan and making his way to the United States? The idea is that 1954 Godzilla really occurred- we knew about him and tried to kill him before AND now in 2014, we really don’t know what we are doing when it comes to these monsters. There’s a serious tone that weaves its way throughout this movie. Godzilla is referred to as a god and a creature meant to dispense judgment and return balance to the world. You know what happened when they tried to bring balance to the force right? Same thing here. There’s a proper and huge build up before zillas arrival and many other scares besides being squashed by a giant foot. The movie breaks into three swinging arcs. The first, is the nuclear cover-up, the second is the military foot-soldier operation and the third is the big behemoth battle(s). It’s a fun ride with some great special effects and thankfully, we avoid the Transformers and The Avengers silliness of heroes helping civilians scramble to safety while the entire world is on the brink of destruction. We do get the big point about how family is important. It’s what puts the wheels in motion (on numerous levels) and that human concern and caring is the (true and only) reason mankind deserves to survive this new awakening.


Speaking of family, heavily overlooked is Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass) playing bomb-specialist Ford Brody. He is the lead action star and carries the military aspect on his soldier shoulders. To be honest, it’s pretty misleading that he is NOT being shown as the main character in the trailers. In the end, Godzilla is a nice American version of the Japanese franchise and does the source material enough justice- so that there is room for sequels and still more Toho/Showa-created movies. Godzilla is back in a big way. This is a film worth seeing and it’s going to keep its high marks because I don’t expect a true Japanese-feeling Godzilla unless it’s made with Japanese sensibilities. This movie is actually what Cloverfield should have been.


A Bit More Zillaness

            As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, Godzilla movies live and die by the stuff between the fights. The tone of the movie is set by the human regard for Godzilla. If he’s seen from a kid’s perspective, then it’s a child-friendly movie and Godzilla is a hero for the kids. Godzilla has be portrayed as a moral statement about man’s destructive ways and his blatant disregard for the sanctity of nature. My overall favorite Godzilla movie is the 1968 Destroy All Monsters. It gives us a huge cast of Toho greats and the humans actually have important stuff to do throughout the movie. Add the sci-fi bend of aliens and rocket ships and you have a calamitous Kaiju cocktail.


Destroy All Monsters Poster

A Kaiju Classic

Godzilla 2014 worked for me because I wasn’t anxious to see Godzilla or impatient with the human drama. I actually wished certain characters stuck around longer and had more to do. I enjoyed this formula and hope Toho releases the other monster licenses (one at a time) and we use a Dark Knight system, where the next bad-guy-introduction drives the franchise. I would like to see the next movie slide a bit more towards the east. I’m not a movie critic, I’m just critiquing a movie.

  1. May 20, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Reblogged this on Rapper's Delite.

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