Quick Rewind: Godzilla Review

21
May
2014

I remember one night in 1998. My Dad was picking me up for dinner and was telling me about a movie he saw with a friend. I don’t remember the movie, but I do remember him telling me about the Godzilla teaser trailer that. It sounded so amazing, and I was beyond excited. I grew up watching Godzilla movies on VHS. I had at least 10, including the best one: King Kong vs. Godzilla. So when I heard they were doing an American version, I was ecstatic. I saw it with my Dad, and at the time I really liked it. But I still felt there was something off about it, even at 9 years old. As the years went on, I would watch it from time to time, becoming nostalgic. After a while though, I came to a conclusion: the 1998 Godzilla sucked. It took time for me to comprehend just how disappointing it was, and it was disappointing for several reasons. First: Matthew Broderick is a weak lead. Second: the inclusion of baby Godzillas was a swing and a miss. Third and possibly most important: they completely screwed up Godzilla. The design was flawed, making the King of Monsters look like a half-assed T-rex, that didn’t come across as the destructive-force it truly is. And it didn’t even shoot fire!

So here we are 16 years later, and once again they have created an American version of Godzilla, this time with Gareth Edwards (Monsters) at the helm instead of the abysmal Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, the only movie of his that’s remotely watchable). After seeing the initial teaser trailer my hopes were high, despite the bad taste the Broderick-version left in my mouth. My love for Godzilla, the creature, and character is unconditional. I am happy to say that after two viewings, the newest version of Godzilla is a massive success.

The story starts out in Japan with Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) ignoring his son’s wishes to throw something of a birthday party for his father. Brody is a scientist along with his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) and they need to investigate some sort of problem with a reactor at the plant they work at. Something goes wrong, tragedy occurs, and the plant is in complete ruins. All Joe’s son can do is watch from a distance while the plant his parents work at collapses due to an unknown intrusion. Cut to 14 years later, and Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a Navy Seal and a bomb expert. He has been gone from his family for 14 months when he finally gets to return home. It appears to him that life will calm down and he can spend some time with his family, when he gets a call about his father being arrested in Japan. He leaves to bail out his father, and finds out his Dad is still obsessed with the incident that happen 15 years ago. The old town where the plant and their home is now condemned as ‘too deadly’ from radiation. The father and son go to investigate their old home and find out that not only is there no radiation, but there is a facility there where the Japanese government is investigating a mysterious life form they found underground.

What some people might think from the trailers and commercials (myself included) is that the film is about Godzilla vs. the world. When in reality, it is the world vs. these parasitic creatures called MUTO’s and Godzilla arrives to restore balance. Oscar-nominated actor Ken Watanabe plays the main scientist in the film, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, the same character from the original Godzilla back in 1954. Serizawa is against trying to destroy Godzilla once the creature shows up, and instead believes that Godzilla is nature’s enforcer. He believes that Godzilla will directly go after the MUTO’s, stop them, and return to the Earth’s core until the planet needs it again.

The MUTO’s are the main villains in the film. They are two creatures who hatch and feed off radiation. They want to lay eggs and spawn more parasites that will inevitably destroy the planet. While the design of the MUTO was average, the design of Godzilla was perfect. It resembled the original Japanese version, while CGI added to it being a little more realistic and modern looking. And the roar sent chills down my spine every time, flawlessly resembling and possible bettering the original sound the old Godzilla made.

This movie works for many reasons. The casting was very well done- being led by Cranston, Watanabe, and Johnson. The story was captivating and felt real, not like the cartoonish 1998 version. The landscapes and visuals are excellent, showing mass destruction and getting the audience excited for what comes next. The build-up was slow and intricate, which in turn leads to the pay-offs being extremely effective. Some complained about the lack of monster showdowns and action scenes, but I found that it was the right move. Instead of giving everything away as soon as possible, the movie lets the story unfold more organically, which in turn feels better once Godzilla finally gets a long fight with the MUTO’s. To me the most important reason why this film was successful was its portrayal of Godzilla itself. It came across as a powerful, noble, tough, and overall badass creature. Godzilla was on a mission, and would not lay down for anything, which made for some heart-pumping fights towards the end.

Overall, I recommend this movie to any die-hard Godzilla fan, action movie fan, and fans of good, solid films. This is the American Godzilla that audiences deserved, and one I personally have been waiting on for 16 years. It is not a perfect film, but it does perfectly portray the King of Monsters, which in the end is an important aspect. Also with a 93 million dollar opening weekend, a sequel has already been announced. This means more monsters clawing at the throne upon which Godzilla will forever sit. Whether you consider this film or Captain America as the beginning of the summer movie season, I can honestly say it is already off to a great start.

And Matthew Broderick still sucks.

 

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4.5 stars
  • Outstanding

  • Godzilla
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  • Last modified: May 21, 2014

Review Summary:

Pros

Godzilla was masterfully done, good casting, good build-up, visuals were excellent, great action

Cons

Lacked a bit of the human element to it, could have had more story lines within the characters