Release: Friday, May 16, 2014

[RPX Theater]

I AM GARETH EDWARDS, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Oh, a nobody, other than the guy who’s responsible for retrofitting the world’s most famous monster for a 21st Century outing.

The British director has been in charge of at least one more monster-related movie. It was actually ingeniously titled Monsters. Now, he’s been tapped to awaken a beast living deep within our oceans — an effort, it’s hoped, that should eradicate any last vestiges of the memory of what Roland Emmerich did to the legend back in 1998. The last man to touch Godzilla controversially recast the giant lizard as some unexplained and malevolent force of nature bent on destroying the world uptown Manhattan. He has posed on occasion throughout his lengthy film career as the villainous type, but never did he feel as disconnected from lore or irrelevant as a threat to mankind as he did then.

Now Edwards has arrived on the scene and there’s a detectable escalating tension in the room. With a restless fan base growing ever desperate to see Godzilla as it truly wants to see him, the time is now to deliver on promises. No more messing around. No more straying from the truth. Just deliver the goods, and no one else gets upset. Or hurt.

Godzilla, the creature, receives a quality facelift in 2014. (I emphasize quality just to ensure no one here’s under the impression of an un-sexy beast; that this is the Joan Rivers of monster lizards.)

He’s so massive the cameras have to take their time in a particularly memorable, vertical panning shot, the moment his true size is revealed. He possesses a thunderous roar that will give the most hardened of ex-cons no choice but to go running for their favorite blankey; and the combination of sheer size and the way he moves in an epic, lumbering gait makes the big guy, for all intents and purposes, the standard against which any forthcoming CGI-fests are to be measured. Behold, the Godzilla we’ve been awaiting, expecting, maybe even demanding — a behemoth so positively ridiculous it couldn’t do anything but sit and wait for technology (namely, visual effects) to catch up and be able to support its very scary ambitions.

In 1999 scientists working in the Janjira Nuclear Plant in Tokyo experience a catastrophic disaster in the form of a series of earthquakes that threatens to expose the entire city to toxic levels of radiation. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) are dedicated researchers/engineers on the hunt for something enormous. As fate would have it, their dedication, a stubbornness woven into the fabric of human nature, would become a means to a very certain end.

A collaborative effort among Edwards’ three screenwriters, a trio which includes the one and only Frank Darabont, produces a screenplay that paints the human race as a mostly likable yet largely incapable species. Our sense of self-importance is quickly curtailed by the arrival of two massive insect-looking monsters the government is quick to label MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms). Mankind’s inability to stop experimenting has ironically produced its inability to continue living in its current state, apparently. Hence, Edwards’ decision to root the Brody’s at physical, emotional and psychological Ground Zero — they are a decent, hardworking family who clearly represents the best of humanity.

While not everyone’s performance strikes the same note — the movie’s biggest crime is that Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Lieutenant Ford Brody is on occasion a bit too dry — the cast do what they need to in order to elevate the non-fantasy component to a suitably dramatic level, while still stepping back enough to allow our own fears and concerns to boil over quietly. We have time to ponder what we would do in these people’s shoes. And while characters fail to break the mould of archetypes — Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa might be the most irritating of the bunch, and Sally Hawkins needn’t even have bothered showing up on set her role is so limited — such is really all we need if we’re talking about retelling a classic and not reinventing it.

Godzilla is one of only a few films that succeeds in producing that gut-feeling, a fear so palpable we wish we don’t keep digging into the unknown. There’s a visceral reason to fear what we don’t understand or have never experienced. In the horror genre of today it seems copious amounts of blood and cruel, unusual ways of suffering and dying translate to “stuff that should scare people.” I mean, that works too. But it’s time the trend is bucked. Here’s a completely new taste for the palate. Packed with scintillating imagery, a generation of suspense that’s comparatively lacking in even recent superhero films, and crafted out of love and passion, the Alpha Predator is back and bigger than ever in an old-school film experience that recalls a bygone era in moviegoing.


Godzilla is smiling. How can anyone be terrified of a smiling Godzilla?

4-0Recommendation: Quite possibly the biggest film of the summer, Gareth Edwards’ hotly debated second film understands how important it is as it handles the challenge of redesigning the beast on his 60th birthday with aplomb, with room to give plenty of attention to its A-list cast. While some characters are definitely better than others, there’s enough here to keep even the most casual attendee engaged in this global crisis. A movie that would never escape criticism, but considering the alternative (let’s never mention Dr. Nico Tattoo-lotsa-lips. . .or whatever his name was from the Emmerich version. . .) it has done alright for itself.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 123 mins.

Quoted: “The arrogance of men is thinking that nature is in their control, and not the other way around. Let them fight.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

41 thoughts on “Godzilla

  1. Pingback: Four Years of DSB | digitalshortbread

  2. Another excellent review! Godzilla was much more fun than I’d expected it to be! The effects are definitely the best part of this. The characters…meh. Hahaha. I agree that Taylor-Johnson is a bit dry–which makes me a little nervous for Avengers (he’d better be as good as Evan Peters…lol). But clearly this isn’t about the characters–it’s about Godzilla, and he looks awesome. 🙂


    • Woof. Stupid WordPress. (No, just kidding. I’ve just been really slacking off on returning to my page after I’ve laid down a review as of late.)

      But thank you very much for your comment! I personally was left indifferent to most of the characters too, but that’s all it was. I didnt’ HATE them or anything or feel annoyed by them just kind of. . .yeah — mehhh. But Godzilly was pretty awesome, wasn’t he??


  3. Great review, Tom. Planning to see it this weekend & wishing that I’m able to enjoy it as much as you did. And hopefully, this will be my next review 😛


  4. Great review. I liked the film and thought the majority of the film was good, which is a nice change from the 98 version which was mostly bad.

    The visuals and tone worked really well but the characters where lifeless, except Cranston.

    Still bring on MechaGodzilla! 😀


  5. Big score my friend! I’m late getting my review up and hope to share my thoughts on it Friday. Loved reading your take. This movie has really amazed me. What a humongous opening. One of the big surprises of the summer I would say.


    • Ha, that’s funny you say that. THis review was pretty delayed as well. Almost didn’t put it up to be completely honest, i just had no idea how to start collecting my thoughts on it. There was just so much I liked, though I’m acutely aware of how much it didn’t work for others. I’m just not in that boat. Everything clicked, with perhaps Aaron Taylor-Johnson being the obvious weak link. All the same, the movie got what truly mattered right


        • Thievery!!! . . oh, I had a really good Robin Hood metaphor for this. . .something about robbing from the rich and giving to the poor students. . .nah, I don’t know. that was lame. lol.

          Yeah, I get that. Studying is important though. Gotta get that locked down first! Just so you can get to summer vacation and watch just a ton of movies! 😀


          • BWAHAHAHAHAHA, well! I get where you were going with it hahaha!

            Damn straight! SEE, there IS a game plan to just studying haha! The movie will always be there now that it is out there. I hope to get to it soon, but if I miss it, that is alright (I’ll catch it on DVD). But Days of Future Past is non-negotiable. I had to choose between the two. X-Men won.


      • Very understandable and ultimately difficult choice! I have a feeling Godzilla will lurk around in cinemas for quite a while too, so. .


  6. This was such a throw back to classic summer fare like Jaws and Jurassic Park. I felt like a kid again watching this.

    As much as I loved Godzilla I’d be surprised if this is the biggest film of the summer. Transformers seems to be the odds on favorite to take that crown (unfortunately). Great review.


    • Very valid point, I keep mentally blocking that one out, even though I’m sure I’ll be dragged into seeing it. I just don’t have much interest in those movies after the second film. I did admittedly enjoy a lot of that CGI action smashing stuff, but it gets a little over-the-top. Godzilla was a great example of how the implementation of stunning visuals used sparingly creates a bigger gut-punch. This was a great movie.


    • Yeah man that’s too bad, I clicked with it. Had a lot of fun, but when I saw it a second time I was able to interpret the opening forty-ish minutes more as boring and slow rather than as intense as I first found it to be. It still was a great time, but the flaws were exposed a little more on a second sitting.

      Godzilla himself though man, wasn’t he something?!!


      • I actually thought that the opening was great and Cranston had me fully involved with what was going on. The guy is a great actor and his personality really shined through his limited screen time. The solider scenes were the only somewhat slow ones in my eyes! In my opinion, Godzilla would have been a perfect movie if they went with Cranston tracking the monsters and attempting to avenge his wife. You know…instead of putting the focus on his emotionless son haha!


      • Yeah Louie, I agree with you. It really was an interesting calling watching this play out the way it does. Characters could have been switched around, and that would have been fine with me. That said, I thikn this played out well enough as it is. But maybe Johnson could have used some work. On the whole, this was handled pretty well. I think my experience with this the second time around shows the reasons why I don’t see too many films multiple times in theaters. It kind of ruins the magic on the second go-around (i.e. the movie doesn’t seem quite as perfect after that initial rush has passed haha!)

        It’d be real interesting to see what I would have thought of things like Gravity, Captain Phillips, Rush. . .on a second go. ALl films that I praised ridiculously heavily.


  7. Seeing this tomorrow. Can’t wait! The trailer made the film look so damn good I fear it might not live up to expectations. However, your ace review is keeping my spirits very much alive!


    • I feel as though there’s been a good bit of that going ’round. This film really is extremely well done. I find the trailers to be extremely good too, it might be another case of Man of Steel where the trailer was just so sick it couldn’t be topped.

      That said, I really dug it dude. It worked for me, on many levels. I’d have to advise you to not sit three rows back for this one. Stand back, cuz he’s a little bigger this time!! 😀


  8. Had a very fun time with this. However, it was in a more tense, slightly epic that I don’t usually get with these types of summer blockbusters. Yet, by the same token, absolutely love when they come around. Good review Tom.


    • I did too dude. I had a lot of fun, in a very old-school thriller kind of way. And I agree that it marked a change in the blockbuster climate. I really think it has done well for the year 2014 so far. Very curious as to how Days of Future Past is about to play out this weekend! Man we have some huge movies coming out. . .


    • Thanks ever so much man. The anticipation SHOULD be high! 🙂 THis is a fantastic movie. Not a perfect one, clearly, but this is Godzilla as it should have been made. Then again, I hated Emmerich’s version so the difference was really felt for me.


    • Yeah right on man! I wished certain aspects worked a bit better but to me they managed to avoid sinking the legend into another hole. So it was a success on that level. Definitely imperfect, but a helluva good time at the movies


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