Sunday 18 May 2014

Godzilla Movie Review!!!

The king of the monsters is back!!! But can Godzilla be king of the box-office too??? Find out in our review!!!

So kicks off this summer’s schedule of big movie releases.  First up, a Godzilla remake.  Are you familiar with big G?  Let me give you an intro. 

Godzilla first hit the screens of Japan in 1954, an allegory to the nations fear of nuclear attack post Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Godzilla was a beast awakened and empowered by radiation with unstoppable atomic fire breath.  

Originally a primitive ferocious beast that lived under the sea, his character changed over the years.  He became something of an anti-hero, saving the people of Japan and indeed the world from the attack of weird and wonderful beasts from earth and sometimes from outer space.  His sheer size meant that cities would crumble despite his good intentions.  It is never spelt out if he actually cares about people, but Earth is his home and he defends it whenever he needs to.

The 1998 American reimagining was a disaster, so understandably all eyes were on this to see if it would suffer the same fate.  Thankfully it does not.

Gareth Edwards’ remake of Godzilla is infinitely better than the 1998 attempt, but that’s not to say it’s not without problems.

In real world history, the US carried out various nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean from 1946 to 1962.  The photo below is a real photo of one of the tests.

The surrounding islands still continue to suffer from radioactive contamination and since the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, the US has paid out in the region of $759 million in compensation.  The movie uses these nuclear tests as the backdrop for its story, setting the stage that the nuclear bombs were in fact not tests but attempts to kill an ancient monster they had found, a beast so prehistoric that it even pre-dates the dinosaurs which roamed the earth some 66 million years ago.  They named this beast GODZILLA!!!

Ken Watanabe plays a scientist who has figured out that Godzilla harks from a time when radiation levels on earth were much higher.  Hence when dormant he sleeps deep in the earth closer to the cores higher radiation levels.  He figures big G is the top of the food chain and comes out when there is suitable prey for him to take note of or when his home turf, earth, is put at risk.  By this rationale, people are little more than ants to him.

Well, such a threat presents itself in the form of two giant cockroach like creatures labeled as M.U.T.Os – Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms.  Inevitably big G comes out to play.

You’ll notice that I haven’t even touched on the human characters yet as there really isn’t much to say about them.  After all, this is a Godzilla movie!

The outstanding Bryan Cranston plays a nuclear plant supervisor seeking to uncover the truth about what happened to a plant he used to manage in Japan that was destroyed, whereas his son Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a military bombs expert residing in San Francisco with wife Elizabeth Olsen.  They get caught up in events as the monster showdown eventually comes to San Francisco.

What I liked about the movie is how Godzilla looks and moves.  This is the Godzilla all Godzilla fans have come to know and love.  He looks and sounds great and the CGI is outstanding.  Among the human characters, Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe steal the show despite playing second fiddle to Aaron Tayor-Johnson’s lead character.  There’s no doubt the humans take a back seat in this movie as most of the characters seem rather forgettable and pointless. 

What I didn’t like were the rather crappy looking bad monsters, the lack of utilization of Bryan Cranston’s character and, surprisingly, the lack of Godzilla himself.  That’s right! 

I get that direct Gareth Edwards was doing the whole suspenseful buildup thing, trying to recreate the dramatic Spielberg-ian tension of movies like Jaws, and he manages to do it well with teasing shots of big G on TV screens, a shot of his foot here and a shot of his tail there, leading up to the films grande finale!  But for me the ending was too little too late.

Even though Godzilla looked great, he seemed unusually weak against his rather puny looking foes and before you know it, the final fight is over leaving you wanting more!  There’s no point talking about where things can go in subsequent movies, where things went in this movie is nowhere much.

I also wished the monster scenes could have been done in bright daylight rather than in night scenes, which always makes things hard to see.

At the end of the day, this is still far far superior to the 1998 movie but not as good as the Japanese movies a lot of us have grown up watching.  I’d rather watch Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters or even Pacific Rim any day over this.  On that note, last years Pacific Rim was a much more enjoyable summer movie with much more replay value.  Hell knows why people in the US didn’t like it and flocked to see the terrible Grown Ups 2 instead???

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad film, it’s just that I wish it was better.  The build up to the first time Godzilla appears is great.  I could hear the audience cheer when Godzilla finally appears with his trademark roar!  But there just wasn’t enough of the big guy to keep me happy.

Check it out but don’t go in expecting a non-stop Godzilla action ride, this is definitely more of a dramatic thriller with a semi-action ending.  Better luck next time big guy!

Rating 3.5 out of 5


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