Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

If you're looking to reignite your inner child with this freshly minted Godzilla. Then prepare to be disappointed or check out Pacific Rim. As someone who was raised on Godzilla and even went as far to name his car Godzilla's Baby Toe; my inner child only squealed twice with glee during this entire remake. It's hard not to compare this remake to last summer's amazing Pacific Rim. Since it has been less than a year since Pacific Rim came out and from the same companies, Warner Brothers and Legandary Pictures. But, the Golden Gate bridge was destroyed in both films. But, now comes the time to tear into this movie like a kaiju into a building.

Godzilla is the story of a conspiracy theorist and his estranged son who must find out the truth behind the 1997 (Freudian slip it was actually 1999) nuclear incident that took place in Japan. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) forces himself to find the truth at any cost. While, his son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)  is a military man who dismantles bombs for a living and his sole objective is to save the world at any cost. Ford leaves his wife in San Francisco the night he get's back from his tour of duty to fly to Japan to help his dad.  Then there are the MUTOs two giant kaijus who must span the globe and mate. Destroying everything in their path. Then there is Godzilla the beast himself who is summoned by Dr. Serizawa (Ken Wantanbe), who is responsible for awaking the MUTOs in the first place. From this point on it's a game of track the monsters and blow them up. 

Sadly, if you're going to see Godzilla this weekend expecting to see Godzilla and Bryan Cranston. Then don't expect to see much of either. But,if you love contrived drama with a monster fight in the background then check it out. Godzilla and Cranston each get roughly over 20 minutes of screen time. But, well get into why in just a little bit.  So, let's talk about the drama of this film that's more over bearing than Godzilla himself. All of the drama consist of splitting one loved one from another loved one and then dramatically or passively reuniting them. Which doesn't create a very engaging story. The best example of this is the train scene in which our hero Ford must reunite a random nameless Japanese boy with his family, after they are separated on a train. Now, the only reason the family is separated in the first place is because of, the nameless random Japanese boy's curiosity about the action figure Ford has in his hands. That's when the train door closes with his nameless Japanese parents on the other side and the train zips off. Ford takes care of the kid and calms him down. Then the female MUTO attacks the train, Ford makes a valiant effort to save the kid and does so. Then they make their way to a refugee station where Ford starts to register the kid as a lost child. But, the kid just turns around and is reunited with his parents with no fanfare what so ever. No swelling music, no big crowd shot, no Speilberg-esque moment, nothing. He just turns around and they're there. And this happens again during a later scene that is much more spoiler filled. The only dramatic reunion is at the beginning of the film when Joe is too late to save his wife from the nuclear reactor and has to say goodbye to her through a small window in the door. 

The real kick to the teeth to this film is the lack of Bryan Cranston. He delivers an amazing performance in the short amount of time he's on screen. But, he never directly interacts with Ken Wantanbe and it would have been a treat to see those two go toe to toe during the movie. But, it never really happens. Instead, that big monologue from the trailer is delivered from a janitors closet that also serves as an interrogation room. Same goes for Godzilla himself. We see glimpses of him here and there but, we don't really see a lot of Godzilla action. Instead we are treated to covert military actions with a kaiju attack as the back drop. 

But, I didn't hate the whole thing or even hate it at all. I found the scenes that involved the MUTOs exciting and compelling. But, the true highlight of this film is the design elements. Starting with retro set pieces that look like they came right out of the Heisei era. Then the costume designs to match. The real icing on the cake is the kaiju and Godzilla designs. Yes, Godzilla looks like a fat dog at times. But, he looks exactly like he did from my childhood; just fatter. No seriously, he's pudgy. What gives? 

My favorite element of this film is Alexandre Desplat's score. Which is ranges from suspenseful to terrorizing. 

All in all, not a bad flick. But not a great one either. If you count yourself a Godzilla fan you owe it to yourself to check out this flick. It doesn't go full fan service like Pacific Rim and you might never get treated to exactly what you want. But, it is a promising start to a new Godzilla franchise. 

Paul's final score: 6 out of 10

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