Will this reboot the franchise? Could it possibly be worse than the 1998 film? Were the subplots decent?
Why I Saw It: I’ve never been a huge fan of the movies featuring a monster which is as tall (or taller) than skyscrapers, but the trailers for the 2014 Godzilla film looked good and some critics were saying it was much better than its predecessor, the 1998 film of the same name starring Matthew Broderick. Plus I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a film in IMAX 3D before, and I figured that a monster of this scale was a good cause to make a first attempt. Also, I really enjoyed director Gareth Edwards’s previous film, MONSTERS, which also got high praise from some movie reviewers whose opinions I respect.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
There are really a few performances at the center of this film:
Bryan Cranston – Some people have said that this film shows that he’s not a movie star, but I disagree. It didn’t prove that he can be the Leading Man of a film, but this wasn’t that type of role. He did just as good a job here as he did in DRIVE and ARGO.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – From the trailers, you’d think this film might move further to establish Aaron Taylor-Johnson as an action star, but the role had considerably more meat than that, and while the character was involved in the action, that wasn’t a huge part of what he did in the film. His ability to get viewers emotionally attached to the characters was more than adequate for the film.
Ken Watanabe – I won’t give too much away about his character, but Watanabe’s performance helped give the film another dimension. In the past, characters of this type have been the detriment of a movie because of the way it was written, the performance, or a combination of both. It’s a credit to both the writer and the talented Watanabe that Dr. Ichiro Serizawa helped the movie instead of hurting it.
Elizabeth Olsen – She wasn’t featured to any considerable extent, but she was more than adequate for the role. The writers probably could’ve done a bit more to try to hook audiences emotionally with her character and to better tie other characters together, but it certainly wasn’t Olsen’s fault.
Godzilla – This is arguably the most important part of the film, the characterization of the titular monster, and they absolutely hit a homerun with this aspect of the movie. Whether it’s the size of Godzilla, the texture, the mannerisms, or how the director presents Godzilla, they did a great job.
The fights involving Godzilla were incredible. They felt natural, and although I don’t want to give spoilers, I’ll at least say that the last thing Godzilla does while fighting is incredible and quite a few people were clapping in the theater. Usually I hate it when people clap in a movie, but I didn’t hate it this time. I didn’t clap along, but I don’t fault anyone for doing so.
Anytime we got a glimpse of Godzilla, but not a look at all of him, the visuals were amazing. That’s not to detract from the times we saw more of him, but I really enjoyed the way Gareth Edwards put the huge scale of Godzilla on display through just showing pieces of him at times.
The Regrettable Aspects
Certain aspects of the film felt too forced. Though it’s respectable that they tried to build up a side story to get that emotional attachment with the main characters, they didn’t give us enough time with Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson for us to truly care about them as a couple. The way Elizabeth Olsen kept finding herself close to the action was a bit of an eye-roll after the second time it happened. An early part of the film, prior to jumping forwards 15 years, featured a scene with Bryan Cranston which also felt a bit forced.
Some of the characters lacked a bit of common sense. It didn’t detract too much from their respective scenes, but let’s just say that if I was on a boat and Godzilla was nearby, I would make sure I was somewhere as safe as possible. Apparently some of the characters didn’t care too much about that.
Would I watch it again?
Absolutely. I can’t say enough about how good the visuals were, and the music was excellently chosen throughout the film. There weren’t as many action scenes as I was expecting, but I really enjoyed the ones we got. The drawbacks of the film weren’t enough to significantly detract from the overall enjoyment factor.
And the parts I can’t mention? They probably still have some rewatch-factor even though I’ll know what to expect the next time around.
To Whom Would I Recommend It?
To anyone who likes a film with some decent suspense, a couple of “jump” spots, and great visuals. Anyone who liked PACIFIC RIM will enjoy this film, because this is the far superior film in all respects.
Note: This was the 60th film I’ve seen this year. For more information on what I’ve been up to, check out the page for my Film Quest 2014.