Godzilla (2014)

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Genre : Action/SF
Country : USA

Cast
:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson : Ford Brody
Bryan Cranston : Joe Brody
Elizabeth Olsen : Elle Brody

Director
: Gareth Edwards

Summary

In 1999, the Janjira nuclear plant was mysteriously destroyed with most hands lost including supervisor Joe Brody’s colleague and wife, Sandra. Years later, Joe’s son, Ford, a US Navy ordnance disposal officer, must go to Japan to help his estranged father who obsessively searches for the truth of the incident. In doing so, father and son discover the disaster’s secret cause on the wreck’s very grounds. This enables them to witness the reawakening of a terrible threat to all of Humanity, which is made all the worse with a second secret revival elsewhere. Against this cataclysm, the only hope for the world may be Godzilla, but the challenge for the King of the Monsters will be great even as Humanity struggles to understand the destructive ally they have.

My opinion


“Nature has an order. A power to restore balance.
I believe he is that power.”

Now this was a movie I was looking forward for so long already. This should have been a megamovie that would beat the 1998 version in every way with one’s hand tied behind one’s back. The 1998 “Godzillawas for me a bit of a setback with a cardboard monster, terrible humorless acting and a “Jurassic Park” type of ending. With current technology, it should be possible to create a grandiose visual spectacle. But what a terrible disappointment it was eventually.

 
The first thing that flashed through my mind was that they could just as well have used the title. “A tiny bit of Godzilla”. You’ll see the monster of monsters approximately 15 minutes. I have read here and there some arguments from Godzilla-hardcore enthusiasts that the movie remained faithful to the original Godzilla films and that the absence of the monster contributes to the build-up of tension. I hope they won’t generalize this technique in future films. Imagine the new “Tarzan” movie where you stare for half an hour at the adventures of Cheetah and finally Tarzan shows up the last 10 minutes to save the day. Or the new Spiderman. A crook destroys an American metropolis the entire movie, and Spidey just takes care of that the last 10 minutes. Or imagine “Jaws” made like this! After one and a half hour looking at a fin cutting through the seawater, the shark finally appears at the end and gets blown into smithereens. Exciting?
Not exactly. It’s more a “Santa-Clause” excitement that children experience. For them it’s also just waiting until that imaginary figure finally reappears in their country.

I admit,”Godzilla” is a film icon with a very rich history that I know little about. I didn’t know that this was already the 30th official movie. I only saw the 1998 version and a slightly older version of “King Kong Vs. Godzilla”. It’s still amazing how popular this creation has become. Godzilla has been around since 1954. A creature from the ocean that got such monstrous dimensions because of radioactive radiations. It was a resounding success and the “Showa”, “Heisei” and “Millenium” series were produced between 1954 and 2004 by Toho. The two American versions were both made under the watchful eye of Toho making sure that the rules of a Godzilla film were properly applied : part of the film must take place in Japan, Godzilla never kills people and it won’t die.

However, “Godzilla” better had followed a diet before showing itself. It looks ponderous and fat. Admittedly, it’s a lot better than the version in which a person plays it in a latex suit. But apparently the iconic monster really feasted on fat whales since his last appearance. Perhaps that’s the reason of his meager 15 minutes appearance. The burden of obesity, perhaps. That is the first frustration. The short screenplay that Godzilla gets. And that for the star player the movie is named after. And the moment it comes in the picture, it doesn’t get the full attention and has to share the spotlight with two other prehistoric giants. And there is annoyance number two. Those two look terribly bad. Almost like two metal monstrosities. But the sound they produce is seriously frightening and imaginative. This could be a personal touch by Gareth Edwards who gave in “Monsters” (as far as I can remember) the aliens also such a unique sound. 

But my biggest frustration was that the entire film was covered in complete darkness and shades. I suppose the prehistoric monsters aren’t fond of sunshine (probably they are afraid to get extinct again) and therefore act when the sun goes down, and preferably when the rain is pouring down from the sky (The 1998 film had the same phenomenon). The entire film is shrouded in fog, dust and smoke. It’s sometimes really hard to distinguish something. The only bright moments were during human interactions. And that part of the movie was the most positive. The human aspect was of an acceptable level and proves the emphasis is on this and not on the creatures fighting each other.

Both Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody) as Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford Brody) did some brilliant acting. Joe is the desperate engineer who lost his wife in the past during a disaster at the nuclear power plant in Janjira. After enigmatic seismic activity the plant collapsed completely. 15 Years later Joe is still looking for the cause of this catastrophe. His son Ford, however, has put this behind him, lives in San Francisco and is an explosive expert in the U.S. army. His relationship with his father is at a low ebb. The father-son story with the known mutual blaming, isn’t really soggy and overdramatized, but shown in a convincing way. Also Ken Watanabe (Dr. Serizawa Ishiro) was the right man for the role of expert in the field of these prehistoric monsters. David Strathairn had to do the ungrateful part of  the commanding Admiral. There’s always such a character in these kinds of movies : a pedantic military who always does what he thinks is best, regardless of the recommendations of the experts, until things really go wrong and then crawls back with his tail between his legs, begging for help.

The acting wasn’t bad. The action part was sufficiently present. And the special effects looked really splendid at times (if they were visible through the smoke and clouds). The main thing missing was  the tension” (not the “Santa-Claus” tension). And what was too much present in here? Nonsensical actions and decisions. Why didn’t Joe empty his automatic rifle on the soft part of the MUTO? I would have done it. Twice there was an unlikely reunion amidst an immense crowd. And the fragment of the enormous bunker where nuclear waste was stored, was completely ridiculous! Of course nobody saw the huge crater behind the metal door …

For moviegoers who expect a movie with a gang of monsters bashing eachother brains, with clear images and nerve-racking tension, it’ll be a real setback. The Godzilla fans, who applause the “delayed appearing” and interpret it as tension, will surely enjoy it. I’m a little bit in between and  still very disappointed. This new version isn’t what I expected, namely better than the 1998 version. Ultimately, it is just the same.

Fortunately, Godzilla is not that vengeful after all those nuclear bombs that they used against him in the past. He left San Francisco as a bull in a china shop and was kind enough not to damage Frisco more. Respect!

My rating 4.5/10
Links : IMDB
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2 Comment

  1. I like this movie then this movie history is very excellent. Incredible post! I adore blood and gore flicks. I'm wary about the Halloween revamp
    http://movievisor.blogspot.com/

  2. […] and scientific gibberish, it probably wouldn’t be good either. Just compare the last “Godzilla” movie and this one. How many percent of screen time did Kong have in this picture compared […]

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