MARVELFREEK REVIEWS: Godzilla (2014)
This is it Zilla fans! The king of the monsters has returned to America's shores after the debacle that was Godzilla '98. Did it fall short or tower over the others? Hit the jump to find out.
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The king of the monsters has returned! Godzilla has always been apart of my childhood. My earliest memories are,sadly, of the Godzilla that released in 1998. When you are a 4-5 year old kid who loved action figures you never really cared whether a movie was bad or not. That was Godzilla '98 for me. I had the figures and the monster himself. A cfew years later my parents introduced me to the Godzilla pop culture knows and loves with the Toho film Godzilla 2000. I do not remember much of it but I do remember loving the monster. After that I had watched a few other Godzilla films over the years but never got too into it. Then this new movie was annouced. My excitement began to mount since that comic-con experience leaked on youtube. From then on I began to research and watch more Godzilla films and learn about the monster and his cast of coloful kaiju. With all of this knowledge I garned I now knew what I both wanted and expected. So without further adieu here is my review of Gareth Edward's Godzilla.
I tried to remain pretty in the dark in terms of what was happening in this movie. ( I did not even know what a MUTO was.) That being said I was well aware that Godzilla was not going to be seen TOO much in this film.
Now as far as plot goes this film follows the basic rubric of the old Toho films. Which is:
That being said I was very much engaged in the scenes that were not a monster. Bryan Cranston's Joe Brody helped to give the plot some lift and set his families story into motion. We learn that he lost his wife in a nuclear meltdown at his plant in Japan and he spends the next 15 years on a journey to find out what his wife had to die for. You see, he believed that the tremors prior to the actual plant meltdown were not the tremors of a quake but of something else. Come to find out he was right and when his son, Ford, (who was just on leave from Navy EOD is forced to fly to Japan and leave his wife and son so that he can bail his Dad out of prison), return to their old home so Joe can find more proof of his conspiracy. What they find out is that what was being hidden is a MUTO (massive unidentified terrestrial object) that can disable electronics with a stomp of its talon. Without spoiling TOO much we are then left with Ford (Aaron-Taylor Johnson) and Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who informs Ford on the tale and proof of a creature he calls 'Godzilla'. So without giving more away the rest of the film is essentially Ford trying to get back to and save his family while Godzilla goes to bring balance to nature by destroying the MUTO threat.
Boring 'people parts'
The monster wrecks havoc
Godzilla saves the day at the end.
SO that's a lot of plot right? I agree. But without the same underlying theme of nuclear dangers that helped carry the 1954 original, it kind of needs to be a dense plot. Which does pay off because all of the characters do their jobs and fit their stereotypical monster movie roles (ie. The military is bad and the scientists are the wise ones). The plot takes us back to a simpler time of monster movies that can be both scary and awe inspiring and coming from a DIE HARD comic book movie fan (like the rest of us) it was refreshing to see something like this.
Joe Brody(Bryan Cranston): While he is only in the first act of the film he manages to bring the emotional weight he is famous for in a role. From the beginning we see a man, with a tendency to get lost in his work,
have to sacrifice his wife so that thousands others survive. It is very sad how quickly this man loses someone so much apart of him in an instant. From that point of we see him spend 15 years being lost in his work and managing to bring his son into all of this; many would agree he is crazy but there are two problems with that.
1. He does this so that he knows his wife can rest in piece instead of being part of some cover up
2. He is right.
Knowing that his 15 years of psychosis were justified we then shift the focus to his son Ford. Most monster movies have always had that one person who is the A-list star to sell the movie. That is Cranston and he does an amazing job in this role.
Ford and Elle Brody (Aaron-Taylor Johnson/Elizabeth Olsen): Here we have it. Our first chance to see Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch together on screen and to see their chemistry as a, married couple? No but seriously these two on screen worked together very well and with the shorter role of Elizabeth Olsen she shows her chops as playing a mom protecting her son and also trying to help people in the hospital. I liked her role and she did not really do anything that would deem her 'stupid' which most monster movies have at least ONE of those types of characters. ATJ was critiqued as both 'flat' and deemed as a poor choice to carry the film after Cranston. I will admit at first it was hard to see him in a paternal role (probably because of his days as Kick-ass) but over the course of the film I noticed he really grew into his role as a military man, hero, and paternal figure. (There is a scene between him and a little boy on a train that I thought really helped his character. All in all i did not hate him in this role and thought he did a fine job portraying a man who just got handed a string of VERY bad luck and took up responsibility for the role he ended up playing in all of it.
DR. Ichiro Surizawa (Ken Watanabe): He had a relatively small role but it was a large one. He was the one who believed that Godzilla was a force that balances the universe when things are tipped. In this case the MUTOs. His wisdom and admiration he has for Godzilla, I found, was very believable and powerful. Also he uttered my favorite line of the film. 'Let them fight.'
Godzilla: Sure there is not a lot of him but frankly that is how all of these films have ALWAYS worked. The payoff comes at the end and in this case it really did.To me Godzilla has always had a personality. You know what he is thinking by his expressions and movements. Knowing that the director was an extreme fan I wasnt worried about his portrayal but also did not know what to expect. When they finally showed him and he scrunched his face and skinned his teeth and roared I KNEW this was Godzilla. I was worried that as a CG character the personality would be lost but he had it in spades. When he was tired, I felt it. When he was mad, I knew it. When he was fed up, I could feel it. He was the powerhouse we all know and love and his roar proved it.
MUTO: This monster is new. It is actually a duo of monsters that Godzilla has to battle and their main powers are an EMP stomp that disables all electronics hundreds of miles around it. One can also fly. It's piercing talons, Powerful jaws and speed made for great additions to the Toho legacy but also great enemies for Godzilla and powerful Kaiju.
This films is, obviously, leagues above a guy in a suit and miniatures. To be honest I was worried that in this era of CG heavy films I would lose a connection to the environment and also the characters. Luckily, I was wrong.
With Godzilla being teased a lot in the film the CG helped to give you tidbits of the effects this monster has to the environment like the ocean and land. The first battle in Hawaii helps to build that suspense and is personally one of my favorite scenes because we get our first look at Godzilla and hear that classic roar.
The roar was so resonating and powerful that at first it could scare you but eventually you find yourself in awe.
ATOMIC BREATH, I wont say much else but when you see it you know and my theater clapped.
The destruction is top notch and is just like the classic movies. There is so much property damage.
Godzilla manages to gain so much personality in his new updated yet nostalgic look. He knows what he has to do and has no issues doint it.
The MUTO look very interesting and quite frightening in some scenes which the CG helped to showcase.
The size of these monsters are MASSIVE. Unlike the other films we really get a sense of scope of the monster and he truly is a giant. This is the one time I wish I had seen this in 3D.
IMPACT AND CONCLUSION
The score is solid and reminiscent of classic monster films. It is menacing, heroic and powerful. I have no problems with this theme but I have one minute nit pick.
NO MAIN THEME. I have three things I love about Godzilla 1) the roar 2) atomic breath 3) his theme. I adore the theme and after sitting through the entire credits and hoping for the entire movie I felt a little let down because the theme is so powerful and demands respect for Godzilla. It is iconic!
This film, much like the roar, resonates with you long after you see it. At first you think 'That was fun' but after a while you begin to realize that this is a genre that has not gotten much credit like it used to and thanks to this film; it is back and better than ever. I hope this film starts another era of monster movies like this because this film sure delivers on that. I noticed people do not seem to like this movie because Godzilla was barely in it or, and i can't believe this is an argument, he was too fat. Well let me clear these up to those who think that. The original 1954 film barely had Godzilla and focused on the characters and the somber theme. This film is a direct homage to that film while delivering on some of the other classic moments through the series. Much like his first outing we won't se Godzilla much. But by the sequel I bet we will see more of him. People just can't appreciate a solid movie without some form of mind numbing action to dull it. The ending payoff should have more than made up for the lack of a monster because that is the MO of ALL Godzilla films. Also to those who say he is fat; watch some old school Godzilla movies and tell me again how 'fat' he is. Jeez.
This movie portrays and describes Godzilla as a force of nature and throughout the teases and 'almost fights' we see you get the feeling that while he is a being with personality he is also a powerhouse of nature. The anger of mother earth personified. Pure unbridled rage. This added to a strong and solid cast, threatening and powerful enemies and enough moments that deliver to the fans; Godzilla is an amazing way to usher in a new era of monsters and I stress you partake in this great homage to a 1954 classic. Just do it in 3D if you can. 8/10 stars.
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