Godzilla (2014)

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Whether you’re a casual filmgoer or a diehard cinephile, it’s deceitfully easy to get caught up in hype, no matter how adamant one may oppose influence. The truth is, usually it isn’t even external pressures that wind up persuading us to a predetermined conclusion. We form our own biases, niches, and preferences, completely devoid of any convincing, leverage, or sway originating from peers, media, society, etc… Either way, a genuine, uninhibited opinion, free from preconceived notions is nearly impossible to form nowadays. And as much as I’d like to be one of the remaining few who can birth such a rarity, I cannot. I found myself lost amidst the chaos and destruction of “Godzilla’s” mammoth awareness campaign a few months beforehand, even as far back as the comic-con teaser released roughly a year ago. Needless to say, the sheer size of this beast and the terror insinuated through the film’s publicity endeavours snagged me irrevocably.

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Originally what drew me to Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” reboot was the foreboding magnitude and apocalyptic nature of the film’s teasers and trailers. To be honest, the disgraceful, cliche-infested outing from 1998 still left a distinctly potent, gag-inducing taste in my mouth, and I was eagerly looking to wash it out. That being said, apart from Edwards himself, this revamping didn’t exactly have me from the get go. As I mentioned, the debacle starring the wonderful Jean Reno still lingered and the cast chosen for this reimagining left a lot to be desired. Not that I dislike any specific member of the ensemble, I just thought that those chosen weren’t able to handle the spotlight individually, so I remained slightly skeptical still. However, the helplessness and disturbing reality of the film’s tone towards humanities extinction overwhelmed me. Combine that with the monstrous, sky-scraper size of the creature itself and its defining, eardrum shattering roar…and I was won over.

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Heading into the theatre on opening weekend (surprise), there was only one thing on my mind. Did “Godzilla” keep its tone and atmosphere? I was very much on board with Edwards’ vision that would introduce the original movie monster into the modern day and I ached with anticipation, hoping he could pull it off. Unfortunately, upon conclusion, I don’t know what’s more tragic, the fact that Edwards didn’t fully realize the film I was hoping for, or that he almost did. Edwards is a talented filmmaker no doubt. “Monsters” is something to be immensely proud of, in my opinion. With “Godzilla” however, it does feel as if the plausibility and human aspect of the film clashed with the typical monster goodness we’ve come to expect from the “Godzilla” franchise. While both segments are individually entertaining, together, they didn’t meld as seamlessly as I’d hoped.

No one is readily to blame, and by no means is the film’s lacklustre delivery Edwards’ fault. I’ve simply deduced that plausibility and “Godzilla” (and everything that comes with it) do not go hand-in-hand. I feel that what I envisioned before seeing the film is precisely what Edwards’ wanted to end up on screen. Sadly, I struggle to imagine a scenario in which “Godzilla” and humanity co-exist, both thematically and physically on screen.

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As I stated earlier, the film can be separated into two segments. For roughly the first forty minutes, there’s little-to-no action, something I didn’t anticipate heading in. Drama takes centre stage and while consistently captivating, the characters aren’t nearly compelling enough. Because the characters are so bland and their stories, predictable, the cast feels like a slapped-together ensemble of supporting players. This should never be the case when you’ve got the likes of Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn, and Aaron-Taylor Johnson at your disposal. All critique and judgement aside though, the cast does do their best with what they’re given, it’s just that not one of their performances will be remembered years down the road. Thankfully however, those who comprise the cast are talented enough and have already proven their worth, so we shouldn’t worry about their future being affected by this film.

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Now, for a significant chunk of this review, I’ve been rather neutral to negative. The truth is, in the same breathe that I harshly judge Edwards’ reboot, I applaud it for making an action film watchable again, for me anyway. I’m not the biggest fan of the genre and I don’t give top marks for sublime CGI. Most films try to pass on their looks alone, and while “Godzilla” is stunning to look at, it doesn’t solely rely on this fact. Even though it becomes, rather ironically, the only admirable trait of the film. Although its ambition and scale are rather stupendous in their own right, but not to the same effect. The best way to watch this giant-monster flick is to throw every preconceived notion aside and take it for what it is. It’s an action film with gigantic monsters and Edwards does the illustrious lizard and his companions justice. After all, we’re all here for the big guy and nothing else, although some memorable character turns would have been a nice addition.

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“Godzilla” delivers what we’re ultimately paying to see, but is rather lacklustre otherwise. One can’t help but feel that the premise and cast went to waste. That being said, we get enough of a look at the big guy and the carnage that ensues to make Edwards’ “Godzilla” worth the watch and immensely more successful than the 1998 debacle.

Godzilla: 7 out of 10.

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on May 27, 2014, in Action and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Great review mate. Hopefully going to see this tomorrow, anticipation is high!

    Adam.

  2. I still need a few months to fully digest the placement of G2014 in my list of Godzilla’s best to worst. I wanted something less hokey than the 1998 film (Godzilla chasing a taxi just urked me) and less corny than many of the Toho films (esp. the 1970’s films) and that’s what I got, so I was happy. But it still got the Hollywood treatment of entertainment without any deeper meaning-unlike the original-and I need to see it a couple of times before settling on a true value.

    • It was definitely less hokey than the 1998 misfire. Totally agree, Hollywood treatment with no deeper meaning, I feel a film of this nature needs some substance to truly be all it can be. Thanks for stopping by :).

  3. “Sadly, I struggle to imagine a scenario in which “Godzilla” and humanity co-exist, both thematically and physically on screen.”

    I was going to be so mad at you Joseph for bringing this one down. And then I saw you make remarks like this, which I think are excellent points. Truth be told, as much as I really did have a blast with this and found little fault with how even the humans were relegated to almost cardboard cut-outs, I too don’t think a ‘realistic’ Godzilla movie can be made. There’s just going to be too much focus on one thing or the other. Here, I think Gareth was really intending to bring the humanity up to par with how dramatic his creatures were going to be. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work but for me I took it for what it was and had a good time.

    Great review man

    • Thanks a bunch, Tom! Sorry to disappoint ;). Truth is, I did have a lot of fun watching it with my friends, which I guess is the intended purpose. Gareth tried admirably to join both worlds, but ultimately failed to do so, but you have to respect the ambition. It’s not his fault as the film has merit all its own, but it’s definitely not canon material. As always thanks for the comment, bud :).

      • I think it’s canon material only in the sense that this is a prettty classic blockbuster. And while the performances certainly will never be remembered down the road — probably not even as far as the end of the summer lol — I think the acting could have been far worse.

        I for one am just glad we didn’t have another Maria Patillo in this one. 🙂

      • Totally agree, the acting could’ve been worse. That being said, when you’re being compared to Matthew Broderick and the entire cast from 98, it’s not that difficult to come out on too ;). The performances were passable for me, just didn’t feel it. I’m not sure if this will be a classic blockbuster, need to let it settle a bit more. That being said, I’d go see it again :). Lol Maria Patillo! Is she even alive?

  4. I think I liked this even less than you did but I totally agree on how jarring it was to have the humans and monsters inhabiting the same screen. The monsters were so big the humans were bordering on irrelevant.

  5. It was all about the build-up here and that’s what worked for me the most with this movie. The characters? Well, not so much, but hey, at least the cast seemed to actually be trying. Good review.

  6. We are very much on the same page here Joseph. Great action; average characters. This could have been first rate and almost was. Top work mate.

  7. Great review, I mostly feel the same way about Godzilla. Issues with the characters and plausibility took away from some of my enjoyment but there were some cool moments too. 🙂

  8. 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! 😀

    • Thanks Tim! It isn’t hard to take it up a notch from 1998’s utter failure lol. Characters definitely struggled to maintain any attention, Cranston didn’t do it for me though. Would love to see a sequel featuring MechaGodzilla!

      • Agreed. By the way you didn’t just start following me did you? I am 100% sure you have been in my comments section for years 😀

      • Oh Tim! I wish this was the first time it’s happened, but sadly it happens to me all the time! For some reason, my wordpress account consistently follows/unfollows people all its own. So that’s why I hit follow again on your account. Usually I don’t see posts from someone who I regularly read and I have to go to the site and follow all over again. I would never do that to you! You’re one of the ones I’ve been following since the beginning :).

      • Haha that sucks. I think some other people have had that happen. Probably happens to me without noticing 😦

  9. Fantastic review as always Joseph. Its the closest review I’ve read to my own. I think me and you are on the same page with Godzilla

  10. Great review. But I almost passed out from boredom with this movie! LOL

  11. Loved the review and you make solid points. I really went all in for this one. I got caught up in their intentional respect for the nostalgia and i liked how it steered away from the constant loud clanging that we get from many of these flicks. Good fun.

    • Thanks Keith :). It definitely is a good bit of fun and I also loved the respect given to both the character of Godzilla and it’s nostalgic aspect. You’re dead on, it’s not a mess when it comes to the action which is a huge bonus!

      • The big question for me is how will the sequel do. My favorite part of this was the disaster genre aspect. I loved the buildup and the entire ‘what are we dealing with’ angle. All of that is gone so the sequel will have to go a new route.

      • Same here, loved the gigantic disaster, apocalyptic approach. So much dread, terror, and build up to the horror and destruction. I’m not a big fan of the ending, hopefully they can find a way around the cheesy feel of it.

  12. Great review, I haven’t seen it, but what you said is how I imagine it to be…lackluster. Despite it looking like a film that should not be in any sense of the word.

  13. Great review Joseph. Hopefully I will catch this sometime!

  14. I really enjoyed Godzilla. I liked the carefully constructed narrative that built to a big finish. Reminded me of classic sci-fi films like Alien in that way.

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