Like most boys, I’m a huge Godzilla fan. I remember my dad introducing me to the 1985 Godzilla film and I was hooked. Who doesn’t like big giant monsters? I forget which major holiday it was, maybe Independence Day, but every year channel 11 WPIX would run a three-movie Godzilla marathon in the afternoon and I always looked forward to it.
For the most part, I preferred the good Godzilla, King of the Monsters, who was a hero and saved the planet from evil monsters over the destructive Godzilla who just wanted to kill. It was so much more fun to root for Godzilla than to want him to be defeated.
Well, this 2014 incarnation is a nice welcome to the series, and it introduces some great things about Godzilla, but it ultimately fails as a stand alone film. I think all the hype and great reviews stem from our memories of comparing it to Roland Emmerich’s much hated 1998 Godzilla remake.
The lore of Godzilla stays mostly intact and makes more sense for our day and age. The monsters’ origins were advertised as being a result of our abuse of nature and I sort of see that, but I just didn’t care and ultimately it didn’t matter where the monsters came from. What the filmmakers got right this time was to have Godzilla play as our hero and fight other monsters. The visuals and fight scenes were nice, but they could have been a tad bit longer. The upgrades to Godzilla were not as bad as expected as this is the biggest Godzilla to hit the big screen yet which didn’t really bother me.
Other than that, I felt like I was watching a low-budget film on the Syfy channel. The music was terrible and the acting was horrific. The character arc just didn’t pan out at the end as there really wasn’t much closure or even remembrance as to what is driving the main character to fight. And Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston were severely underutilized to the point where Mr. Watanabe was always seen astonished with his mouth open than anything else.
I also didn’t like the fact that much of the exposition was spent on the other two monsters and not much on our favorite lizard guy. It was as if, “Oh, hey, there’s this giant force of nature called Godzilla that will help us defeat the other monsters. Yeah? That’s great!” The characters didn’t fear Godzilla as much as he deserved, thus minimizing how gigantic, powerful, and terrorizing he can be. He’s the King of the Monsters, I think Godzilla deserves a little bit more than the typical ooh’s and ah’s.
However, the biggest problem is that many critics these days are so high on the characters. They want a character-driven story with character development and character this and character that. That’s garbage. Godzilla is the main character, not some military junkie. Yes, it’s great to hide the big payoff until the final sequence and we do want to see people saved, but in the end we paid to see Godzilla do his thing, not some kid with a gun. I had extremely high hopes for this reboot, but sadly, the thought of a reboot should have halted everything.
The director, Gareth Edwards, had created a lower budgeted film in 2010 called Monsters in which much of Mexico is quarantined off because of numerous giant monsters roaming the land and a couple of reporters are sent in to document what was happening. Such a premise worked because the monsters were simply that, monsters, and could be treated and abused as such without character, promise, or expectation. Godzilla can’t be used as just an animal or plot device and be tossed around without growth. Godzilla is not a simple monster, he is a cinematic legend that requires his own character arc with attached emotion and feeling with the audience and such ignorance is why this movie fails.
I think I liked Pacific Rim better than this.