Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Max Borenstein
Godzilla, at least from the trailers, felt like my only hope for a decent blockbuster film this summer. Sadly, it was a disappointment. Not a total wash, but a missed opportunity. The biggest issues is the miss guided story and the flat, dull performance from one of the leads. Well, the lead that took over from the quality acting from Bryan Cranston. I can respect the beginning of the film, but after the filmed moved forward, that quality was nothing more than a waste and had little interest or valued purpose to the rest of the film. The best part of the film was the tease building up to the big reveal of Godzilla himself, but nothing more. Just a way, way too long, remake/reboot that had no pulse and life. The one chance I had hoped for this summer came down hard, much like San Francisco in Godzilla.
Godzilla focuses on nature reclaiming its rightful place at the top of the food chain on Earth. A prehistoric monster, attempted to be killed by atomic tests in the 1950s, but failed. Scientist Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) inspects an enormous fossil at a mining site in the Philippines in the late 1990s. What he uncovers is something much more frightening as a spore, a parasite, still alive after all these years somehow, has managed to break free from this fossil in search of food in the form of radiation. It travels to a nuclear plant in Japan where nuclear engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) realizes that the tremors the plant is feeling is not an earthquake, but something much, much worse. The plant implodes and we move forward 15 years.
Not a bad build up. Somewhat dramatic, if a little too hammy or Spielbergian, and suspenseful. I am into it, but then if fell off the tracks. We are introduced to the biggest problem with this film -- the character of Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Ford is the son of Joe and has recently arrived back home in San Francisco from the military as a bomb specialist. Right away when he goes home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son, he has absolutely no emotion, personality and one annoying whiny little voice. Sorry, but the horrible acting, and more terribly, the storytelling is just completely uninteresting. You think you would have a tremendous amount of emotion seeing your family for the first time in awhile, but he just has this dull, boring look on his face. Got to give me something more than that. Taylor-Johnson's character and acting is just one of the most boring, dull performances I have seen in a long time.
Ford travels to Japan where his father has become somewhat of a obsessive nut and is in jail for trespassing on the quarantined site where he worked at the nuclear plant. Joe knows something is amiss and he must find out. What they unravel is that a gigantic, insect-alien looking creature is the cause for the collapse of the plant and this creature has come out of its shell. This thing is quite impressive to look at and goes on a rampage seeking out its mate. Ok... Destruction ensues, lives are lost and we are only slightly teased at the behemoth monster that lives in the deepest parts of the ocean. Now that this MUTO, as it is called, has come out, Godzilla is on the way to battle this, and the female MUTO that was stored at a nuclear waste site in Nevada. The battle is on. The king of the Earth is at stake. Honolulu, Las Vegas and San Francisco are demolished. That is your film, but what garbage, Hollywood crap it turned into.
I have already mentioned the bad acting and character writing for Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but killing off his father in the first thirty minutes and turning Ford into the main lead was an horrendous decision. Cranston kept me engaged and excited for the film and when he died, so did the rest of the film. Taylor-Johnson brought nothing, but Watanabe, Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche (in a small role) and David Strathairn at least kept the acting up to par. The beginning of the film ended up being completely irrelevant to entirety of the film. It stretched it out way too long and exemplified poor decisions in the narrative. At least that beginning was at least good on its own merit. Bad choice by director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and screenwriter Max Borenstein to kill off Joe and turn the boring Ford into the main human character in the film and waste that start to the film.
Yes, it is all about the monster, and he looks fantastic. So much better than the shit look of Godzilla in the Godzilla film from 1998. Detail focused and the insect-looking MUTO's look quite impressive as well. I also liked the fight sequences between Godzilla and those MUTO's, but that is about it. Well, I did like the slow build up to the eventual unveiling of the famous monster. The story is just so flat and boring. It feels like the inspiration wants to be there, but was held back for whatever reason. Too much softness and Godzilla being here to safe humanity. NO. He was not saving human beings, but killing off the enormous creatures that threatened his powerful existence. There is a scene when Godzilla is somewhat beaten and exhausted, and while he is laying on the ground he and Ford look into each others eyes. Is this suppose to be some sort of recognition or connection? From the human standpoint, yes, I can see that, but the monster could care less about the human beings. Too stupid and had the soft, emotional acceptance from a Spielberg film, except nowhere near as good. Just overall a disappointing conclusion and overall film.
Gareth Edwards Godzilla has a few, and I mean a few, decent moments, but is overall not a very good film. This film is nowhere near as good as the original Japanese film Gojira (1954). I love the suspense and silliness of that film, but this one could have been so much better. Keep Cranston as the main character and the film could have gone in so many better, more creative directions. The attempt at keeping the myth and lure of the monster Godzilla is there, but not enough to even remotely make this film interesting. Good luck to the rest of the summer. I am sure more and more disappointments will be on the way.
Photo credit by IMDB.