When I heard there was going to be a new Godzilla movie, I thought, “Oh no.” My friend dragged me to see it the other day. It was Memorial Day. I couldn’t get a root canal, and spending the day on hold with the Social Security office wasn’t going to happen since they were closed, so I opted for the movie. I’m so glad I did.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The movie drags a little in the second act. The story had balanced human interest very well with action in the first act. Then it became a story about military deployment until the final act. It’s not boring, but it lacks sparkle.
The Admiral (David Strathairn) and Japanese scientist (Ken Watanabe) were not very good in their roles. It’s as if they were standing there thinking, “Oh no. I’m in a monster movie. My career is over. How should I play this?” Scene after scene the two of them felt paralyzed.
I was surprised because I’ve seen them be engaging actors in other roles. The emotional constipation was the worst when they were acting against each other, staring helplessly, trying to look serious but coming across stupefied and awkward. Lastly, the 3D conversion wasn’t worth the price of admission. Catch Godzilla in 2D, and save yourself some scratch.
That being said, I liked the movie. It starts off with li’l Ford Brody listening to his dad heatedly talk to a Japanese co-worker on the phone. His dad is dedicated and not very attentive as a father. Later at the nuclear power plant, the strange readings his father noticed indicate something is coming closer to the plant. Then there is a crisis and Ford’s mother is lost. It was powerfully acted.
Fifteen years later, Ford Brody has a career in the military defusing bombs, and his dad is a hollow wreck. From there, we are introduced to the first MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), Godzilla, and then the lady MUTO looking for a good time. Ford Brody is the thread that binds Godzilla and all its destruction together into one narrative that even my mother could enjoy.
Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his wife gave the best performances. Elle Brody is played by Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins. She looked so familiar; I just couldn’t place it. For a person acting like a giant monster is going to step on her, she brought a lot of emotion to the role. That sounds patronizing, but you really need good actors in a monster movie to help you suspend your disbelief. These two actors were believable where the more seasoned actors were not. They saved the movie for me.
Although the 3D conversion wasn’t impressive, the cinematography was quite excellent. There were two scenes that stood out for me in particular. One was when the troops are parachuting into the city. Just before they pop their chutes, there was a scene where the smoke trails from the tracers on their ankles left red streaks in the sky above the destroyed city. That was visually stunning, but more striking still was the scene when Godzilla woke up after a building dropped on him, and he stared face to face with Brody. The visual artists got the scale and lighting perfect. Coupled with billowing smoke and debris clouds, it was an iconic moment.
Overall, Godzilla was a fun flick and one of the best monster movies I’ve seen in a long while (and I’ve seen some real turds…Gamera vs. Zigra, I’m looking at you). If you’ve got kids, this one’s golden. If you’ve got a kid still inside you, you’ll probably enjoy it, too.
Release Date: May 16, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (mild, incidental)
Language: 2 (mild, deity)
Nudity: 0 (Godzilla wears no pants)
Sexuality: 1 (smoochin’)
Violence: 3 (buildings are destroyed, people are stepped on, people die, there is bleeding and death, but none of it is gory)